How many teams from Europe are in FIFA World Cup?

The FIFA World Cup is the most prestigious international football tournament, held every 4 years. 32 teams from around the world qualify to compete in the month-long tournament to be crowned World Champions. The World Cup features teams from every continental football confederation, including Europe. As football’s popularity and participation is highest among European nations, UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) receives the largest allocation of qualifying spots for the World Cup. In the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar, 13 of the 32 participating teams will be from Europe.

Number of European Teams in 2022 World Cup

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will feature 13 teams from the UEFA confederation:

Country UEFA Ranking
Belgium 1
France 2
England 5
Spain 7
Italy 8
Netherlands 9
Portugal 10
Denmark 11
Germany 12
Switzerland 14
Croatia 16
Wales 19
Poland 26

This accounts for 13 of the 32 teams competing in Qatar. The other teams come from confederations like CONMEBOL (South America), CONCACAF (North America), CAF (Africa), and AFC (Asia).

The 13 European teams in 2022 represent the same number as the last World Cup in 2018. Europe consistently receives between 13-14 of the 32 spots in the World Cup.

UEFA Allocation Process

How does UEFA get 13 spots in the World Cup when there are 55 member nations competing? UEFA uses a multi-year qualifying process to allocate their spots fairly.

First, UEFA ranks all member countries based on competitive results and FIFA world rankings. The top seeds go directly into the UEFA World Cup qualifying group stage. The remaining teams play knockout qualifying matches to reduce the field.

In the group stage, the teams are divided into 10 groups of 5 or 6 teams each. Each team plays home and away against the other teams in their group. The 10 group winners automatically qualify for the World Cup.

The 10 group runners-up advance to a 12-team knockout phase. The 2 winners from these playoffs claim the final 2 UEFA spots for the World Cup.

This format rewards consistency through the multi-year qualifying cycle. The 13 European teams that reach the World Cup have proven themselves against stiff competition from dozens of strong European sides.

History of European Representation at World Cup

Ever since the first World Cup in 1930, UEFA has secured a large share of the spots. Here is a brief overview of European participation:

– 1930 World Cup (13 teams) – 4 European teams (31% of participants)

– 1934 World Cup (16 teams) – 4 European teams (25%)

– 1938 World Cup (15 teams)- 8 European teams (53%)

– 1950 World Cup (13 teams) – 4 European teams (31%)

– 1954 World Cup (16 teams) – 9 European teams (56%)

– 1958 World Cup (16 teams) – 10 European teams (63%)

– 1962 World Cup (16 teams) – 10 European teams (63%)

– 1966 World Cup (16 teams) – 10 European teams (63%)

– 1970 World Cup (16 teams) – 10 European teams (63%)

– 1974 World Cup (16 teams) – 10 European teams (63%)

– 1978 World Cup (16 teams) – 10 European teams (63%)

– 1982 World Cup (24 teams) – 14 European teams (58%)

– 1986 World Cup (24 teams) – 14 European teams (58%)

– 1990 World Cup (24 teams) – 15 European teams (63%)

– 1994 World Cup (24 teams) – 15 European teams (63%)

– 1998 World Cup (32 teams) – 15 European teams (47%)

– 2002 World Cup (32 teams) – 15 European teams (47%)

– 2006 World Cup (32 teams) – 14 European teams (44%)

– 2010 World Cup (32 teams) – 13 European teams (41%)

– 2014 World Cup (32 teams) – 13 European teams (41%)

– 2018 World Cup (32 teams) – 13 European teams (41%)

– 2022 World Cup (32 teams) – 13 European teams (41%)

A few key takeaways:

– Europe has always had a strong representation, given the popularity of football and the strength of club leagues like the English Premier League, La Liga, and Serie A.

– The percentage of European spots started decreasing when the World Cup expanded to 24 and then 32 teams, allowing other confederations to gain a few additional places.

– In recent decades, the allocation has stabilized around 13-14 spots for UEFA or about 40% of the total field.

So in summary, the 2022 World Cup will feature 13 European teams out of 32, which is in line with recent World Cup history.

Strength of European Teams

Beyond just the number of spots, Europe dominates the World Cup year after year because its teams are overwhelmingly the strongest.

Let’s take a look at European success in previous World Cups:

– Winners – A European team has won the trophy 12 times out of 21 tournaments, including the last 4 editions (France in 2018, Germany in 2014, Spain in 2010, Italy in 2006). Brazil has 5 titles but last won in 2002.

– Runners-Up – The second place finisher has been from Europe in 13 tournaments.

– Semi-Finalists – At least 2 of the 4 semi-finalists have been European in all but 2 World Cups. In 2018, all 4 semi-finalists were European.

– Top Scorers – The Golden Boot winner for top scorer has been European in 12 of 21 editions.

– Best Player – The Golden Ball for best player has gone to a European in 9 tournaments.

– FIFA Rankings – European teams occupy 9 of the top 10 spots in the current world rankings.

The data shows that European teams, especially those from western Europe like Germany, Spain, Italy, France, and England have been the dominant forces at the World Cup for nearly a century.

Even when South American teams like Brazil and Argentina do well, they inevitably have to get past top European sides late in the tournament.

Why is Europe So Strong at Football?

There are several key factors that explain Europe’s strength in international football:

– Strong domestic leagues – The top European domestic leagues like the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, and German Bundesliga generate billions in revenue and attract the world’s best talent. This provides European clubs with the money and talent to dominate club competitions like the UEFA Champions League and Europa League.

– Football obsession – Football is woven into the cultural fabric across Europe. Kids grow up playing and following the sport religiously. This creates a huge talent pool.

– Population and resources – Europe has over double the population of South America. More people means more raw talent to develop through organized youth programs. Europe also has the money to invest heavily in training facilities, coaches, sports science and medicine.

– Fan support – Massive fan followings for club and country provide European teams with tremendous home support and traveling support at major tournaments like the World Cup. The atmosphere pushes players to perform at their highest level.

– Tactical innovations – European managers and coaches have driven key tactical and formation innovations over the decades like Total Football (Dutch) and Tiki-Taka (Spanish) that influenced playing style.

– Champions League experience – The wisdom gleaned from competing every year against elite players from around the world in the Champions League sharpens the skills of European players.

The combination of these structural factors means that European teams are favorites to continue their dominance at the FIFA World Cup in the coming years.

Threats to European Dominance

While Europe is clearly the power center of international football, are there any threats emerging that could end its dominance at future World Cups?

A few possibilities:

– Growing strength in South America – Brazil and Argentina continue to produce world-class talent. Uruguay, Colombia and Chile have strengthened over the decades as well. The 2022 World Cup qualifiers showed South American football is still thriving.

– African nations rising – More African players are playing in top European leagues, improving the standard of African national teams. Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco and Ghana possess talent that could make a deep World Cup run.

– Asian investment – Chinese Super League clubs and Middle Eastern oil money are being invested into Asian soccer at an incredible rate. If this transforms domestic leagues in China, Japan, South Korea and Qatar, it could vastly improve Asian teams.

– European saturation – Having 55 member nations dilutes the player pool in Europe. There is a chance other regions narrow the gap by concentrating talent into fewer competitive national teams.

– Complacency – Dominance breeds complacency. European nations at the top may struggle to maintain their edge and hunger long-term.

However, these threats appear minor compared to Europe’s daunting advantages. It will likely require a perfect storm of factors for Europe to cede its power. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar should feature the familiar sight of multiple European teams in the final four.


In the 2022 FIFA World Cup being held in Qatar, 13 of the 32 participating nations will hail from the UEFA confederation in Europe. This allocation is in line with recent World Cup history, where Europe typically receives between 13-14 spots or around 40% of the field.

The multi-year qualifying process within UEFA is highly competitive and ensures that only the top teams make it through to the World Cup. Once there, European sides have a dominant track record, winning 12 of 21 World Cup titles and usually occupying at least 2 of the semi-final places.

Given Europe’s immense structural advantages in talent, resources, leagues, fan support and tactical innovation, the continent should remain the epicenter of international football for the foreseeable future. While emerging threats exist, dethroning Europe from the top will likely take generations. Fans can expect the European contingent of 13 teams to make a strong run at the FIFA World Cup 2022 championship.

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