Girish Mahajan (Editor)

FIBA Basketball World Cup qualification

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FIBA Basketball World Cup qualification

Qualification for the FIBA Basketball World Cup is the process that a national basketball team undergoes to qualify for the final tournament of the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Each of FIBA's five zones, which generally correspond to continents are allocated berths. These zones conduct qualifying tournaments to determine which teams would represent them in the FIBA World Cup; these tournaments double as continental championships. Aside from continental qualifiers, the host and the Summer Olympics gold medalist are included in the World Cup.



"+W" are invited teams (wild cards), "+O" are for teams that qualified via the Summer Olympics, "+C" are the defending world champions, and "+H" are for hosts.


  • Gray=Africa, Red=Americas, Gold=Asia, Blue=Europe, Green=Oceania; H=host
  • Olympic, European and South American automatic berths

    Before the creation of the first FIBA zones, qualifying for the FIBA World Championship, the original name of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, was via the Summer Olympics, regional championships and by invitation, although some teams were not able to compete due to political reasons. Teams from North and Central America, which did not have a regional championship until the establishment of the Centrobasket in 1965, Asia until the establishment of the Asian Championship in 1960, and Africa until the foundation of the African Championship in 1962, can either qualify via the Olympics or by invitation. The Olympics used the Pan American Games as a qualifying tournament, serving as the first qualifying tournament for North and Central American teams.

    In the 1950 FIBA World Championship in Argentina, the top three teams from the 1948 Summer Olympics, the top three teams from South American Basketball Championship 1949, the EuroBasket 1949 champion and the top twp teams from a subsequent European qualifying tournament, and two invitees and Asia were supposed to compete. Uruguay, the South American champion, were refused visas, the Asian teams refused to make the long trip to Argentina, and Italy withdrew for financial reasons.

    In the 1954 FIBA World Championship in Brazil, the top four teams in the South American Basketball Championship 1953, the top 3 teams in EuroBasket 1953 and one invitee from the Americas (Canada) and two invitees from Asia (Formosa and the Philippines) were supposed to participate; however, the Brazilian government refused entry on teams from Communist countries, except Yugoslavia.

    The 1959 FIBA World Championship in Chile saw the Olympic champion, the top two teams from South American Basketball Championship 1955 and EuroBasket 1957, and seven invited teams. In the 1963 FIBA World Championship, the Olympic champion and the top three teams from South American Basketball Championship 1961 and EuroBasket 1961 were given places, plus five invited teams, four from the Americas and one from Asia. The Philippines was supposed to host, and Formosa was to be Asia's representative, but were suspended and removed hosting rights by FIBA after the government refused to issue visas to teams from Communist countries. FIBA awarded the World Championship to Brazil, and the Asian berth was instead given to Japan.

    African, Asian, Central American and Oceanian automatic berths

    By the 1967 FIBA World Championship in Uruguay, the Summer Olympics and the continental championships in Europe, Central America, South America and Asia became established as qualifying tournaments. The two North American nations, the United States and Canada, can still only qualify via the Olympics or via invitation; Mexico participated via the Centrobasket, which it hosted the inaugural tournament. On the next tournament in the 1970 FIBA World Championship in Yugoslavia, the African champion was given an automatic berth, and regions which don't have qualifying tournaments, Oceania and North America, were granted invitations. In the 1974 FIBA World Championship, the reigning world champions replaced the Summer Olympics champions on the automatic berth, with the Oceanian champion also qualifying outright; the two North American teams, Canada and the United States) were regularly invited as there was no way for them to enter the competition with the Olympics no longer serving as a qualifying tournament. The Summer Olympics returned as an outright qualifying tournament in 1982 when the top three Olympic teams were given berths, but these were again removed in 1986, when two invited teams participated.

    Americas automatic berths

    In the first world championship in the open era where professionals were allowed to compete in the 1990 FIBA World Championship in Argentina, the field was reduced to sixteen, and the FIBA Americas Championship were first used to determine the qualifiers from the entire Americas, instead of the separate then-continental championships in Central and South America; these then became qualification tournaments to the Americas championship. This also allowed the USA and Canada to compete in a qualifying tournament other than the Olympics; those two teams are automatically included and do not have to participate in qualifying. In addition, the defending world or Olympic champions weren't given automatic berths, nor where there invited teams. The Summer Olympics became a qualifying tournament again in the 1994 FIBA World Championship in Canada. This setup continued until the 2002 FIBA World Championship in the USA which were also the Olympic champions; the supposed berth for the Olympic champions were instead given to Americas, the USA's home zone.

    Wild card berths

    In the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan that saw the field expand to 24 teams, with four invited teams popularly called as "wild cards" were invited by FIBA. This setup will last until 2014, when FIBA announced that they were renaming the competition as the "FIBA Basketball World Cup".

    Home and away qualification

    In 2012, FIBA announced that the supposed 2018 world championship will be moved to 2019, the field will expand to 32 teams, and that a new qualification format will be used. Qualification for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and all succeeding world cups will see one path of qualification for teams from Asia and Oceania, that the home-and-away system will be used, and that the continental championships will be held quadrennially instead of biennially, and those would no longer be used as qualification tournaments. The berth for the Olympic champion and hosts will still be retained.


    These are the number of teams that participated in all levels of qualification in the last 3 world cups:

    Key to map:

  • Blue: Qualified and invited as a wild card
  • Light blue: Can still be invited as a wild card (2014 only)
  • Yellow: Did not qualify
  • Dark gray: Did not enter
  • Light gray: Not a member of FIBA
  • Black: Disqualified
  • Current format

    Qualification format to be used starting at the 2019 FIBA World Cup:

    First appearance in qualification

    The figures below show the first instance a team qualified to the final qualifying tournament (i.e. continental championship). Countries that had not appeared here may have earlier participated in earlier stages of qualification tournaments.


    FIBA Basketball World Cup qualification Wikipedia