Europe will have seven places at the expanded 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup and the entrants will discover their qualifying task when the draw is made on 7 July in Nyon.
For the seventh final tournament, to be held in Thailand from 2 to 18 November 2012, the number of contenders has been increased from 20 to 24, and UEFA has been allocated one of those extra berths, having had six places in 2008 and five previously. The European qualifying system will consist of three stages – the preliminary and main rounds, drawn next month, and two-legged play-offs.
Depending on the number of entries, the lowest-ranked contenders will take part in the preliminary round mini-tournaments from 19 to 23 October this year, with teams moving through to join the higher seeds in the main round. Seven groups of four take place from 14 to 18 December, the top two in each pool progressing to the play-off draw scheduled for early next year, when UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 is staged in Croatia.
The play-off first legs are scheduled from 25 to 28 March and the returns (when the main round group winners, seeded in the draw, will be at home) from 8 to 11 April. The seven winners will progress to Thailand and hope to emulate the feat of Spain, who won the World Cup in 2000 and 2004 before losing the last final in 2008 to hosts Brazil. Italy, Russia, Portugal, Ukraine and the Czech Republic were also present at those tournaments.
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