For 16 nations, the World Cup playoffs will represent one last-ditch chance to make it to the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The playoff draw that will be held at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Friday, Nov. 26 will spell out exactly what they will have to do (live on FIFA.com, on YouTube and on Twitter).
There are a total of five World Cup berths on the line — three in the European playoffs and two in the intercontinental playoffs — but they will all follow a similar format: every match will be a knockout. It’s win or go home.
The European playoffs will take place in late March 2022, while the two intercontinental playoffs will be staged at a neutral venue in June 2022.
MORE: Everything you need to know about the playoff draws
Sporting News will be following the draw live and providing updates on the matchups as they happen, including other details that are shared during the event.
World Cup playoff draw – live updates
European playoffs (3 World Cup berths)
There are 12 European nations which still have hope of making the World Cup after failing to earn a direct berth by finishing first in their qualifying groups.
The 10 runners-up from each qualifying group are joined by two group winners in the UEFA Nations League — the latter’s inclusion helps raise the competitive stakes of the UEFA Nations League — and the draw will split them up into three different brackets, or ‘paths’ as FIFA prefers to call them (see below). Each is essentially a “final four”.
Each bracket will feature two knockout semifinals (March 24-25) and then a knockout final (March 28-29). The six top seeds with the highest points total during group-stage qualifying (minus points against last-place teams for those nations involved in six-team qualifying groups) host the semifinals. A draw determined the team that will be hosting the decisive knockout final.
Pot 1 (seeded teams): Italy, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Sweden, Wales
Pot 2 (unseeded teams): Austria, Czech Republic, North Macedonia, Poland, Turkey, Ukraine
There is only one condition to keep in mind due to the “prohibited team clash” rule: Ukraine and Russia cannot be drawn against one another.
Home teams listed first
Bracket (Path) A (1 World Cup berth)
|Thurs/Fri, March 24/25||Semi #1: Scotland vs. Ukraine|
|Thurs/Fri, March 24/25||Semi #2: Wales vs. Austria|
|Mon/Tues, March 28/29||Final (Wales or Austria will host)|
Bracket (Path) B (1 World Cup berth)
|Thurs/Fri, March 24/25||Semi #1: Russia vs. Poland|
|Thurs/Fri, March 24/25||Semi #2: Sweden vs. Czech Republic|
|Mon/Tues, March 28/29||Final (Russia or Poland will host)|
Bracket (Path) C (1 World Cup berth)
|Thurs/Fri, March 24/25||Semi #1: Italy vs. North Macedonia|
|Thurs/Fri, March 24/25||Semi #2: Portugal vs. Turkey|
|Mon/Tues, March 28/29||Final|
Intercontinental playoffs (2 World Cup berths)
After the European draw, there will be a draw that will determine the matchups between the four playoff qualifiers from the four different continents that advanced to the FIFA intercontinental playoffs. The two matches will be held at a neutral venue in June 2022.
|Mon, June 13||Intercontinental Playoff Match #1|
|Tues, June 14||Intecontinental Playoff Match #2|
How to watch the FIFA World Cup playoff draw
The draw will be held at FIFA headquarters in Zurich on Friday, Nov. 26. There will be a live stream available on FIFA.com, on YouTube, and on Twitter via the official FIFA World Cup handle.