The qualification process for the first FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991 saw 48 teams from the six FIFA confederations compete for the 12 places in the tournament's finals. The places were divided as follows:Africa - represented by CAF: 1 berth
Asia - AFC: 3 (one of those was eventual host China, who did not qualify automatically)
Europe - UEFA: 5
North, Central America & the Caribbean - CONCACAF: 1
Oceania - OFC: 1
South America - CONMEBOL: 1
Five of the confederations used their regional championship tournament to determine qualification. The only confederation to hold a specific qualification tournament was the OFC.
The first qualification match was played on 9 September 1989 and the qualification concluded on 14 July 1991. A total of 445 goals were scored in the 111 qualifying matches (an average of 4.01 per match).
Four teams withdrew during the qualification without playing a match: Congo, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe, all of which are African teams.
1 8 nations started, but Martinique is not eligible for World Cup qualification. It is only a member of CONCACAF and not FIFA.
2 China was selected as host after it qualified to the tournament
(8 teams competing for 1 berth)
The only African team to qualify to the World Cup was the winner of the 1991 CAF Women's Championship, Nigeria.
The eight teams were paired together into two knockout ties. The winners of these ties advanced to the second round, who used the same format as the first round. The final round is a two-leg final between the two winners of the second round. The winner, Nigeria qualified to the World Cup and won the tournament by defeating Cameroon 6–0 on aggregate.
Final RoundNigeria won 6–0 on aggregate and qualified for the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup.
(9 teams competing for 3 berths)
The 1991 AFC Women's Championship, consisting of nine teams, served as the AFC's qualifying tournament.
The first round is formed by two groups, one of four teams and the other of five. The top-two teams of the groups advance to the Semi-finals. In the semi-finals, winners advance to the final and the losers advance to the third place match. The winner, China; runners-up, Japan and third place, Chinese Taipei qualified to the World Cup.
China, Japan and Chinese Taipei qualified for the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup.
(18 teams competing for 5 berths)
The first official edition of the UEFA Women's Championship served also as UEFA's qualifying tournament for the World Cup. Out of the 18 teams participating in the tournament, the qualifiers were the four semi-finalists - Denmark, Germany, Italy and Norway - and the best quarter-final loser - Sweden, who lost their two leg quarter-final clash against Italy on a single away goal.
The UEFA Women's Championship had held its own qualifying campaign. It began in September 1989, and ended with a final four-style tournament in Denmark, held in July 1991, only four months before the World Cup.
Germany won the tournament by beating Norway 3–1 in extra time.
Quarter-finals3 Italy won due to the Away goals rule and qualified, Sweden qualified for being the best quarter-final loser.
Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway and Sweden qualified for the World Cup.
(7 teams competing for 1 berth) 5
The 1991 CONCACAF's Women's Championship, despite being an unofficial competition, determined the CONCACAF's single qualifier for the World Cup - the winner, the United States. The tournament took place in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in April 1991 and consisted of 8 teams.
Knockout Stage5 Martinique is not member of FIFA
United States qualified for the World Cup.
(3 teams competing for 1 berth)
Only three teams participated in the tournament which took place in Sydney, Australia in May 1991: Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The teams played in a round-robin tournament in which each team played 2 matches against each opponent, with the first placed team qualifying.
The competition was eventually decided through goal-difference, as the matches between Australia and New Zealand ended with one win to each side, and both teams won all matches against Papua New Guinea.
New Zealand qualified for the World Cup.
(3 teams competing for 1 berth)
The first edition of the Sudamericano Femenino (Women's South American Championship), held in April–May 1991 determined CONMEBOL's qualifier. The host of the tournament Brazil won the tournament and with it the right to represent South America in the World Cup.
Brazil qualified for the World Cup.