A total of 34 teams entered the qualification rounds of the 1950 FIFA World Cup, competing for a total of 16 spots in the final tournament. Brazil, as the hosts, and Italy, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 14 spots open for competition.
The remaining 32 teams were divided into 10 groups, based on geographical considerations, as follows:Groups 1 to 6 – Europe: 7 places, contested by 18 teams (including Israel and Syria).
Groups 7 to 9 – The Americas: 6 places, contested by 10 teams.
Group 10 – Asia: 1 place, contested by 4 teams.
However, due to the withdrawals of India, Scotland and Turkey after qualifying, only 13 teams actually competed in the final tournament.
A total of 19 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 27 qualifying matches were played, and 130 goals were scored (an average of 4.81 per match).
Listed below are the dates and results of the qualification rounds.
The 10 groups had different rules, as follows:Group 1 had 4 teams. The teams played against each other once. The group winner and runner-up would qualify.
Groups 2, 3 and 4 had 3 teams each. The strongest team of each group was seeded. There would be two rounds of play:
Final Round: The seeded team played against the winner of the First Round on a home-and-away basis. The winner would qualify.
Group 5 had 3 teams. The teams played against each other on a home-and-away basis. The group winner would qualify.
Group 6 had 2 teams. The teams played against each other on a home-and-away basis. The group winner would qualify.
Group 7 had 3 teams. The group winner and runner-up would qualify.
Group 8 had 4 teams. The group winner and runner-up would qualify.
Group 9 had 3 teams. The teams played against each other twice. The group winner and runner-up would qualify.
Group 10 had 4 teams. The group winner would qualify.
England qualified. Scotland also qualified, but declined to travel.
Syria withdrew, and remaining match was not played.
Turkey advanced to the Final Round.
Austria withdrew, so Turkey qualified automatically. But Turkey later also withdrew, and FIFA offered the place to Portugal, the runner-up of Group 6, but they declined. FIFA decided not to allow anyone else to qualify, leaving the World Cup two teams short.
Yugoslavia advanced to the Final Round.
France 2–2 Yugoslavia on aggregate, and a play-off on neutral ground was played to decide who would qualify.
Yugoslavia qualified while France were also offered a place by FIFA. France initially accepted, but later declined.
Switzerland advanced to the Final Round.
Belgium withdrew, so Switzerland qualified automatically.
Sweden qualified. Finland withdrew before the group was completed. Ireland (FAI) were subsequently invited to enter competition but declined the opportunity because of traveling costs.
Spain qualified. Portugal were also invited to take part but they declined.
Argentina withdrew, so Bolivia and Chile qualified automatically.
Ecuador and Peru withdrew, so Uruguay and Paraguay qualified automatically..
Mexico and the United States qualified.
Burma, Indonesia and the Philippines all withdrew before the draw, so India qualified automatically. But India later also withdrew "because of the expense of travelling such a long way to play" (or, according to some reports, after a FIFA ruling that players were not allowed to play barefoot), and FIFA decided not to invite anyone else, leaving the World Cup three teams short.
However, another opinion about this was reported in an article of The Los Angeles Times in 2011. AIFF (the All India Football Federation) could not send their team from South Asia to South America due to financial problems, and wanted to concentrate its resources to attend the Olympics, which was regarded as more important. India, Scotland and Turkey withdrew after qualifying.
(H) – qualified automatically as hosts
(c) – qualified automatically as defending champions