FIFA World Cup 2022 list of teams: how many teams enter Qatar football tournament group stage?

The FIFA World Cup is set to increase to 48 teams in 2026. The first ever World Cup in 1930 consisted of just 13 teams.

The FIFA World Cup is approaching and many nations from around the world are dreaming of glory in Qatar 2022.

When the 22nd edition of the World Cup gets underway it will be almost unrecognisable from the inaugural competition which took place 92 years ago. Back in 1930, just 13 teams competed in the FIFA World Cup in Uruguay and the hosts became the first team to lift the historic trophy.

The competition has expanded several times since then and there are plans for further expansion in the near future. But how many teams have qualified for this year’s tournament in Qatar and how has the World Cup changed over time?

Here is everything you need to know.

How many teams enter the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

There will be 32 teams competing for glory in Qatar 2022. The competition consists of eight groups of four teams. Each nation will play three games against the countries in their group and the top two ranked teams will qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.

During the round of 16, the top ranked team from one group will face a second placed team from another group so it is advantageous to perform well in the group stage. The competition has followed this format for every tournament since France 1998.

Which teams have qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022?

Gareth Southgate is aiming for glory in the Qatar World Cup. (Getty Images)

Host nation Qatar are the only team to make their debut in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, while Wales are set to take part in their first tournament since 1958.

Brazil are the only nation which has participated in every single World Cup tournament - they are also the most successful team in the competition’s history - having won the prestigious tournament five times.

Here is the draw for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022:

Group A:

  • Qatar
  • Ecuador
  • Senegal
  • Netherlands

Group B:

  • England
  • Iran
  • United States
  • Wales

Group C:

  • Argentina
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Poland
  • Mexico

Group D:

  • France
  • Australia
  • Denmark
  • Tunisia

Group E:

  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Japan
  • Costa Rica

Group F:

  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Morocco

Group G:

  • Brazil
  • Serbia
  • Cameroon
  • Switzerland

Group H:

  • Portugal
  • Ghana
  • Uruguay
  • South Korea

How many teams will play at the 2026 World Cup?

The 2026 World Cup will take place across three countries - Canada, Mexico and the USA. It will be the first tournament to have 48 teams competing.

The format of the FIFA World Cup will change for the tournament and the 48 teams will be split into 16 groups of three. After the group stage the top two teams will advance to the knockout round of 32. From then the familiar format will resume and teams will have to battle their way through the knockout stage to achieve World Cup glory.

How has the World Cup changed over the years?

The early years

1930

The first ever World Cup was played in Uruguay in 1930 and consisted of just 13 teams. The teams that participated were split into four separate groups and the top ranked teams from each group qualified for the semi-final stage of the tournament.

1934-1938

In 1934, this number was increased to 16 teams and the group stage format was discarded in favour of a straight knockout tournament. If a match was tied then 30 minutes of extra time would be played. If the scores were still tied after extra time, then the match would be replayed the following day. This same format was used in the following tournament in 1938.

Post World War II

1950

The fourth edition of the World Cup took place in 1950 and it was the first World Cup to take place after World War II.

Brazil were the hosts of the tournament and the 1950 tournament was the first time that the historic World Cup trophy was referred to as the Jules Rimet Cup to celebrate the 25th anniversary of FIFA’s longest serving president Jules Rimet.

The original format was designed to feature 16 teams however, the likes of India, Scotland and Turkey all withdrew from the tournament. Meaning just 13 teams took part in the tournament.

The 1950 World Cup returned to a group stage format, the 13 teams were split into four first round groups and the winner of each group would then advance to a second group stage.

The final four teams would then play each other in a round-robin format and the team that topped the group would be declared the FIFA World Cup champion.

1954

The 1954 tournament in Switzerland featured 16 teams consisting of four groups with four teams. The top two teams would advance to the knockout stage of the competition.

A curious thing about the set up of this tournament was that every team only played two group matches and would only meet two out of three teams. The FIFA rankings would decide which opponents teams would face. This format received widespread criticism and was deemed to be favouring the higher ranked teams.

1958 - 1978

From 1958 until 1970, the World Cup consisted of 16 countries which were split into four groups of four teams, each team would play every nation in their respective group once and the top two teams from each group would progress to the knockout phase of the tournament.

The 1974 and 1978 tournaments also consisted of 16 teams. Eight teams advanced from the group stage as we saw in previous tournaments. However, rather than playing a quarter-final and a semi-final the eight teams were instead split into two groups of four for a second group stage. The leaders of the two groups would then face each other in the World Cup final.

1982-present

In 1982, ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Spain the tournament was expanded to 24 teams.

The World Cup had a group stage format which featured 6 groups of four teams. The top two ranked teams from each group would then progress to a second group stage.

The 12 teams that progressed to the second group stage were split into four groups of three teams and the top ranked teams from the group would advance to the semi-final stage of the tournament. The 1982 World Cup was the final tournament to use a second group stage.

From 1986-1994 the FIFA World Cup had six groups of four teams - the top two automatically progressed to the knockout stage and the four best third place finishers advanced to the round of 16.

Since 1998, the tournament has featured 32 nations and has followed the same format that we still use today.