The Preliminary Draws for the World Cup 2026 football take place from July, 2023 onwards. These draws determine the first groups of the qualifying zones of the several world’s soccer continents. Each nation is aiming for FIFA World Cup football success, and will start the qualification process in its FIFA Zone. This will either be in the Asian Zone (AFC), African zone (CAF), North, Central American and Caribbean zone (CONCACAF), South American zone (CONMEBOL), Oceania zone (OFC), or European zone (UEFA). The Preliminary draw reveales the first groups for the several, continental qualification stages. After this draw, each nation knows its opponents, as well as the dates of its first matches, aiming to advance towards North America.
These Preliminary draw dates are already known:
Preliminary draw African qualifiers
July 12, 2023 | Preliminary draw groups CAF. That is the evening before the 45th CAF Ordinary General Assembly. Location: Cotonou, Benin.
|POT 1||POT 2||POT 3|
|Ivory Coast||Equatorial Guinea||Angola|
|POT 4||POT 5||POT 6|
|Tanzania||Burundi||São Tomé and Príncipe|
|Central African Republic||Eswatini||Seychelles|
Result draw World Cup football CAF Round 1
Sao Tome e Principe
Central African Republic
Preliminary draw Asian qualifiers
July, 27, 2023 | Draw first qualification groups AFC. This concerns the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 as well as Round 2.
|POT 1 (FIFA RANKING 27-36)||POT 2 (FIFA RANKING 37-46)|
|Hong Kong (China)||Macau|
Result draw World Cup football AFC Round 1
Afghanistan – Mongolia
Maldives – Bangladesh
Singapore – Guam
Yemen – Sri Lanka
Myanmar – Macau
Cambodia – Pakistan
Chinese Taipei – Timor-Leste
Indonesia – Brunei Darussalam
Hong Kong (China) – Bhutan
Nepal – Laos
|POT 1 (FIFA RANKING 1-9)||POT 2 (FIFA RANKING 10-18)||POT 3 (FIFA RANKING 19-27)||POT 4 (WINNERS ROUND 1)|
|Japan||Uzbekistan||Lebanon||Winner Round 1|
|Islamic Republic of Iran||China PR||Tajikistan||Winner Round 1|
|Australia||Jordan||Thailand||Winner Round 1|
|Korea Republic||Bahrain||DPR Korea||Winner Round 1|
|Saudi Arabia||Syria||Philippines||Winner Round 1|
|Qatar||Vietnam||Malaysia||Winner Round 1|
|Iraq||Palestine||Kuwait||Winner Round 1|
|United Arab Emirates||Kyrgyz Republic||Turkmenistan||Winner Round 1|
|Oman||India||Winner Round 1||Winner Round 1|
Result draw World Cup football AFC Round 2
Afghanistan / Mongolia
Myanmar / Macau
Singapore / Guam
Chinese Taipei / Timor-Leste
Hong Kong (China) / Bhutan
Indonesia / Brunei Darussalam
Cambodia / Pakistan
United Arab Emirates
Yemen / Sri Lanka
Nepal / Laos
Maldives / Bangladesh
An explanation of the World Cup qualification and schedule for each continent, can be found at: Schedule/Qualifiers. This is where you will find the set-up and, when they’re available, the results of the draw, the schedule with all matches, results and rankings.
Participating nations: how many will qualify per FIFA zone?
It is ultimately up to each country to rank among the (record) 48 2026 World Cup participant countries. Out of Europe (UEFA), 16 countries will qualify; 9 from FIFA zone Africa (CAF); 8 out of Asia (AFC); 6 out of North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF); 6 out of South America (CONMEBOL); and one from Oceania (OFC). The last two countries will be the result of a ‘second chance’ mini tournament for which two CONCACAF countries, one CAF country, one AFC country, one CONMEBOL country, and one OFC country will qualify as a result of their performance in their previous qualifiers for the World Cup in North America.
Qualification matches: when?
The 2026 World Cup qualification matches will be held between 2023 to 2025.
Original information from the BID United, which is no longer applicable (!):
World Cup 2026 Preliminary Draw (optional) host: Miami, Florida or Washington, DC
The Preliminary Draw is scheduled to take place in either Miami or in Washington. Both cities have the appropriate locations, and the capacity, for hosting an event welcoming representatives of all the world’s nations. This has been stated in the United BID.
Update June 16, 2022: Washington has not been selected as a final host city. This reduces the chances of Washington being chosen as the location for the draw.
Possible Preliminary draw location Miami
The draw venue in Miami would be the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Possible Preliminary draw location Washington
The draw venue in Washington would be the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Both sites have been selected for their accessible location, large international airports and a wide range of hotels nearby. As a result, Miami and Washington DC are both well positioned to welcome visitors from all over the world and provide them with a high level of service. Miami has the most non-stop international flights in the US, and Washington DC is already home to nearly 180 embassies. The draw for the 2026 World Cup qualification period will include all 211 FIFA member countries. The draw determines the group in which the countries are to be placed and which opponents they will draw for the qualification stage. There are six qualification zones worldwide. The exact set-up of the qualification format differs per FIFA continent. In any case, it will start with an initial qualification group for each country, possibly followed by a second qualification group and/or playoffs, sometimes intercontinental.