SOCCER

When and where are the World Cup inter-confederation play-offs?

The final two spots at the 2022 World Cup will be decided in inter-confederation play-offs involving teams from the AFC, CONCACAF, CONMEBOL and the OFC.

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When and where are the World Cup inter-confederation play-offs?
Mark Kolby Getty Images

While we wait to learn the identity of the countries involved, the draw for the 2022 World Cup inter-confederation play-offs is to be held at FIFA headquarters on Friday.

Play-off draw to determine confederation pairings

The inter-confederation play-offs, which will decide the final two spots at the Qatar World Cup, will feature four countries: one team each from Asia (AFC), South America (CONMEBOL), Oceania (OFC) and North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF).

They’ll be paired off into two knockout ties, with the winner of each advancing to the World Cup. Friday’s draw in Zurich, Switzerland, will determine which confederation’s representative faces which.

The inter-confederation play-off draw is to take place after the draw for the European World Cup play-offs, which gets underway at 5pm CET (11am ET/8am PT).

When and where are the 2022 World Cup inter-confederation play-offs?

Originally due to be held in March 2022, the World Cup inter-confederation play-offs were pushed back due to the impact of covid-19 on global qualifying schedules, and will now be played on 13 and 14 June 2022.

Both ties will take place in single-game format at an as yet unconfirmed neutral venue.

When will we know who's in the play-offs?

In the AFC, the winners of a fourth-round qualifying play-off scheduled for May or June 2022 will progress to the inter-confederation play-offs, while CONCACAF and CONMEBOL’s representatives will be confirmed by the end of March at the latest.

In Oceania, however, the picture is rather less clear. World Cup qualifying in the region hasn’t yet started, with the OFC blaming “logistical challenges presented by the covid-19 pandemic”. The confederation says it aims to hold its qualifiers in Qatar in “early 2020”.

As things stand, Australia or the United Arab Emirates would represent the AFC in the play-offs, while in CONCACAF and CONMEBOL, it will be the fourth and fifth-placed nations in their qualifying groups, respectively. In CONCACAF, that’s currently Panama; in CONMEBOL, Peru.

With no automatic qualification berths in the OFC, the winner of the region’s qualifying competition advances to the play-offs. For the past three World Cups, that has been New Zealand.

What happened in the play-offs four years ago?

In qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the inter-confederation play-offs pitted CONCACAF against the AFC, and the OFC against CONMEBOL. In ties played over two legs, Australia defeated Honduras 3-1 on aggregate, and Peru were 2-0 winners over New Zealand.