FIFA World Cup Qualification
Every year approximately 200 or more countries participate in the FIFA World Cup Qualification rounds in the hope of being one of the 32 countries that gets to play in the FIFA World Cup Finals. The qualifying tournaments for reaching the final 32 teams are held in the six FIFA continental zones, which are Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, South America, Oceania, Europe. The qualifying matches are organized by their respective confederations. FIFA decides before the qualification tournaments how many spots are to be awarded to each of the continental zones, according to the strength of the teams in each confederation.
The host(s) of the FIFA World Cup is automatically given a place in the finals. The qualification for FIFA 2010 started in 2007 and was over only by late 2009. Until 2002, the defending champions were also given an automatic berth, but from 2006, FIFA regulations require even the defending champions require to qualify for the finals.
Out of the current 32 places available in the final tournament, one is reserved for the host nation. The number of spots decided by FIFA for each of the continental zones varies slightly between tournaments held every four years. The berths decided for each continental zone by FIFA for the 2010 World Cup is given below.
Europe - 13 berths
Africa - 5 berths, plus the host South Africa
Asia and Oceania - 4 berths for AFC countries, with the fifth going to the winners of an Asia - Oceania playoff
South America - 4 berths
North and Central America and Caribbean - 3 berths
1 berth for the winners of South America - North and Central America and Caribbean playoff
The teams that have qualified for the 2010 World Cup finals are:
1. South Africa
4. Korea Republic
6. Korea DPR
12. Côte d'Ivoire
19. United States
24. New Zealand