1998 FIFA World Cup qualification
|Teams||174 (from 6 confederations)|
|Goals scored||1922 (2.99 per match)|
A total of 174 teams entered the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds which began with the preliminary qualification draw on 12 December 1995 at Paris, competing for a total of 32 spots in the final tournament. This is the first time there would be 32 teams in the finals. France, as the hosts, and Brazil, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 30 spots open for competition.
The 32 spots available in the 1998 World Cup would be distributed among the continental zones as follows:
- Europe (UEFA): 15 places, one of which went to automatic qualifier France, while the other 14 places were contested by 49 teams.
- South America (CONMEBOL): 5 places, one of which went to automatic qualifier Brazil, while the other 4 places were contested by 9 teams.
- North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 3 places, contested by 30 teams.
- Africa (CAF): 5 places, contested by 38 teams.
- Asia (AFC): 3.5 places, contested by 36 teams. The winner of the 0.5 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from OFC).
- Oceania (OFC): 0.5 place, contested by 10 teams. The winner of the 0.5 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from AFC).
A total of 168 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 643 qualifying matches were played, and 1922 goals were scored (an average of 2.99 per match).
In the event, the final was played between the two automatic qualifiers.
To see the dates and results of the qualification rounds for each continental zone, click on the following articles:
- Group 1 – Denmark qualified. Croatia advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Group 2 – England qualified. Italy advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Group 3 – Norway qualified. Hungary advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Group 4 – Austria qualified. Scotland also qualified with the best record among the runners-up.
- Group 5 – Bulgaria qualified. Russia advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Group 6 – Spain qualified. Yugoslavia advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Group 7 – Netherlands qualified. Belgium advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Group 8 – Romania qualified. Republic of Ireland advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Group 9 – Germany qualified. Ukraine advanced to the UEFA play-offs.
- Play-offs – Croatia, Italy, Belgium and Yugoslavia qualified over Ukraine, Russia, Republic of Ireland and Hungary respectively.
- Argentina, Paraguay, Colombia and Chile qualified.
- Mexico, USA and Jamaica qualified.
- Group 1 – Nigeria qualified.
- Group 2 – Tunisia qualified.
- Group 3 – South Africa qualified.
- Group 4 – Cameroon qualified.
- Group 5 – Morocco qualified.
- Group A – Saudi Arabia qualified. Iran advanced to the AFC play-off.
- Group B – South Korea qualified. Japan advanced to the AFC play-off.
- Play-off – Japan qualified. Iran advanced to the AFC–OFC intercontinental play-off.
- Australia advanced to the AFC–OFC intercontinental play-off.
The teams would play against each other on a home-and-away basis. The winner would qualify.
22 November 1997
|Azizi 40'||Kewell 19'|
29 November 1997
The aggregate score was tied 3–3, and Iran qualified due to the away goals rule.
The following 32 teams qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup:
|Team||Finals appearance||Streak||Last appearance|
(h) – qualified automatically as hosts
(c) – qualified automatically as defending champions
- For the first time, the South American qualifiers were held in a single group.
- Australia had a 2–0 lead against Iran in the second leg of their play-off against Iran, but conceded two late goals and was denied a place in the finals. The result meant that Australia went undefeated in qualifying but still miss out on qualification.
- Burundi won their 2 first games of this qualifying campaign, unfortunately they had to withdraw due to civil war, meaning they were eliminated though winning all of their matches.