Girish Mahajan (Editor)

1938 FIFA World Cup qualification

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Teams  37
Matches played  22
Goals scored  96
1938 FIFA World Cup qualification httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

Top scorer(s)  Fricis Kaneps (5 goals)
Similar  1950 FIFA World Cup qualification, 1934 FIFA World Cup qualification, 1958 FIFA World Cup qualification, 1962 FIFA World Cup qualification, 1970 FIFA World Cup qualification

1938 fifa world cup qualification

A total of 37 teams entered the 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, competing for a total of 16 spots in the final tournament. For the first time the title holders and the host country were given automatic qualification. Therefore, France, as the hosts, and Italy, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 14 spots open for competition.


Due to the Spanish Civil War, Spain withdrew from the competition. The remaining 34 teams were divided into 12 groups, based on geographical considerations, as follows:

  • Groups 1 to 9 - Europe: 11 places, contested by 23 teams (including Egypt and Palestine).
  • Groups 10 and 11 - The Americas: 2 places, contested by 9 teams.
  • Group 12 - Asia: 1 place, contested by 2 teams.
  • However, due to the withdrawal of Austria after qualifying (they had been annexed by Germany), only 15 teams actually competed in the final tournament. FIFA did not offer participation to the runner-up of the group that Austria had played in, Latvia.

    A total of 21 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 22 qualifying matches were played, and 96 goals were scored (an average of 4.36 per match).


    The 12 groups had different rules, as follows:

  • Groups 1 and 9 had 4 teams each. The teams played against each other once. The group winner and runner-up would qualify.
  • Groups 2, 3, 4 and 7 had 2 teams each. The teams played against each other on a home-and-away basis. The group winners would qualify.
  • Groups 5, 6 and 8 had 3 teams each. The strongest team of each group was seeded. There would be two rounds of play:
  • First Round: The seeded team received a bye and advanced to the Final Round directly. The remaining 2 teams played against each other on a home-and-away basis. The winner would advance to the Final Round.
  • Final Round: The seeded team played against the winner of the First Round at home. The winner would qualify.
  • Group 10 had 2 teams. The group winner would qualify.
  • Group 11 had 7 teams. The group winner would qualify.
  • Group 12 had 2 teams. The group winner would qualify.
  • Key:

  • Teams highlighted in green qualified for the finals.
  • Teams highlighted in Orange qualified for the final phase of their group.
  • Germany and Sweden qualified.

    Norway qualified.

    Poland finished above Yugoslavia on goal average, and thus qualified.

    Group 4

    Egypt were to play Romania in December 1937 however Egypt refused to play Romania during the Ramadan month, Egyptian officials had argued it was "impossible" to play football during that time period. Egyptian officials went on to invite Austrian club side First Vienna FC to Egypt to participate in a friendly game against the national team during the holy month. As a result, Egypt were withdrawn from the competition by FIFA, so Romania qualified automatically.

    Group 5

    Switzerland qualified.

    Greece qualified for the final round.

    Final round

    Hungary qualified.

    Czechoslovakia qualified.

    Latvia qualified for the final round.

    Final round

    Austria qualified, but was later incorporated by Germany during the Anschluss. FIFA offered the place to England (winner of the 1937–38 British Home Championship), who had opted not to enter the competition, but they declined the offer; FIFA decided not to allow anyone else to qualify, leaving the World Cup one team short.

    Netherlands and Belgium qualified.

    Group 10

    Argentina withdrew, so Brazil qualified automatically.

    Group 11

    Colombia, Costa Rica, Dutch Guiana, El Salvador, Mexico, and the United States all withdrew, so Cuba qualified automatically.

    Group 12

    Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and the Philippines all withdrew, so Dutch East Indies qualified automatically.

    Qualified teams

  •  Austria withdrew after qualifying due to the Anschluss.
  • (h) - qualified automatically as hosts
  • (c) - qualified automatically as defending champions
  • References

    1938 FIFA World Cup qualification Wikipedia