1966 FIFA World Cup qualification
|Teams||74 (from 5 confederations)|
|Goals scored||393 (3.09 per match)|
A total of 74 teams entered the 1966 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, competing for a total of 16 spots in the final tournament. England, as the hosts, and Brazil, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 14 spots open for competition.
The 16 spots available in the 1966 World Cup would be distributed among the continental zones as follows:
- Europe (UEFA): 10 places, 1 of them went to automatic qualifier England, while the other 9 places were contested by 32 teams (including Israel and Syria).
- South America (CONMEBOL): 4 places, 1 of them went to automatic qualifier Brazil, while the other 3 places were contested by 9 teams.
- North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 1 place, contested by 10 teams.
- Africa and Asia (CAF/AFC): 1 place, contested by 18 teams (including Australia from Oceania).
A total of 51 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 127 qualifying matches were played, and 393 goals were scored (an average of 3.09 per match).
Listed below are the dates and results of the qualification rounds.
To see the dates and results of the qualification rounds for each continental zone, click on the following articles:
- Group 1 - Bulgaria qualified.
- Group 2 - West Germany qualified.
- Group 3 - France qualified.
- Group 4 - Portugal qualified.
- Group 5 - Switzerland qualified.
- Group 6 - Hungary qualified.
- Group 7 - Soviet Union qualified.
- Group 8 - Italy qualified.
- Group 9 - Spain qualified.
- Mexico qualified.
- North Korea qualified.
The following 16 teams qualified for the 1966 FIFA World Cup:
|Team||Finals Appearance||Streak||Last Appearance|
(h) - qualified automatically as hosts
(c) - qualified automatically as defending champions
- After having no teams from Africa or Asia qualifying for the previous two World Cups, FIFA decided to allocate a single spot to the winner of a four-way play-off between the winners of three African groups and the winner of the Asian zone. However, the African teams believed that winning their zone should have been enough to go straight through to the final tournament, and all of them withdrew in protest.
- Innovations in the run-up to the 1966 World Cup included the introduction of doping controls, and a prohibition on the naturalisation of footballers, two issues that had had negative repercussions during the last tournament of 1962.
- Several weak nations withdrew from the competition, but the stronger nations were still very much in the game. The squad of the Spanish national team was given a boost by a rejuvenated Real Madrid, and the Germans reaped the rewards of the Bundesliga national league, as well as the introduction of full-time professional football.