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Women's World Cup qualifying group stage guide

European qualifying for the 2023 finals begins on 16 September with a record 51 contenders.

Lea Schüller scored six goals in Germany's two September wins including four in the 5-1 defeat of Serbia
Lea Schüller scored six goals in Germany's two September wins including four in the 5-1 defeat of Serbia Getty Images

The European qualifying group stage for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup has begun with the first week of games and resumes on 21 October, running until 6 September 2022.

The record 51 contenders are split into six groups of six teams, and three of five. They are competing for nine direct spots in the finals as well as the chance to play off for three other European berths, and another in the inter-confederation play-offs, which like the finals will take place in Australia and New Zealand.

All the matches
Vivianne Miedema equalised late for the Netherlands against the Czech Republic as the 2019 runners-up started life under Mark Parsons, followed by beating Iceland
Vivianne Miedema equalised late for the Netherlands against the Czech Republic as the 2019 runners-up started life under Mark Parsons, followed by beating IcelandUEFA via Getty Images

How it works

  • The winners of the nine qualifying groups will progress directly to the finals in Australia and New Zealand from 20 July to 20 August 2023.
  • The group runners-up take part in the UEFA play-offs in October 2022.
  • In the play-offs, the three best runners-up will be seeded directly to round 2 of the play-offs. The six remaining runners-up contest three single-leg play-offs in round 1.
  • The three winners from round 1 and the three teams seeded directly to round 2 will then compete in single-leg play-offs determined by a draw.
  • The two play-off winners with the highest ranking (based on results in the qualifying group stage and round 2 play-offs) will qualify for the finals.
  • The remaining play-off winner will compete in the inter-confederation play-offs from 17 to 23 February 2023 in Australia and New Zealand.

Qualifying groups

Sweden have a perfect six points
Sweden have a perfect six pointsUEFA via Getty Images

Group A: Sweden, Finland, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, Georgia

  • In September, Sweden beat Georgia and Slovakia, who also lost 2-1 in Finland. Ireland play their first fixture on 21 October against Sweden.

Group B: Spain, Scotland, Ukraine, Hungary, Faroe Islands

  • Spain won comfortably in Hungary and the Faroe Islands, who both also lost to Scotland. Ukraine begin their campaign on 21 October.

Group C: Netherlands, Iceland, Czech Republic, Belarus, Cyprus

  • 2019 runners-up the Netherlands, under new coach Mark Parsons, needed a late Vivianne Miedema goal to hold the Czech Republic 1-1 in Groningen but then won 2-0 in Iceland. The Czechs are also on four points, one ahead of Belarus, who opened with a 4-1 win against debutants Cyprus.
Women's EURO finalists Northern Ireland made it two wins out of two as they defeated Latvia
Women's EURO finalists Northern Ireland made it two wins out of two as they defeated LatviaPA Images via Getty Images

Group D: England, Austria, Northern Ireland, North Macedonia, Latvia, Luxembourg

  • England (under ex-Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman for the first time), Austria (for who Sarah Puntigam overtook Nina Burger as their most-capped player) and Northern Ireland all picked up two wins in the first set of matches. Luxembourg's debut games in a main qualifying group were defeats in Northern Ireland and at home to England.

Group E: Denmark, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Malta, Montenegro

  • In Denmark's opening win against Malta, Pernille Harder became their all-time leading scorer, overtaking Merete Pedersen's previous mark of 65, and they then beat Azerbaijan. Russia also have two wins. Montenegro got their first ever points in a main qualifying group with a 3-2 win in Bosnia and Herzegovina despite two sendings-off though then lost in Russia.
Pernille Harder broke a record in Denmark's opening win
Pernille Harder broke a record in Denmark's opening winUEFA via Getty Images

Group F: Norway, Belgium, Poland, Albania, Kosovo, Armenia

  • Norway have six points, two ahead of Poland and Belgium, who drew their opening game 1-1 in Gdansk.

Group G: Italy, Switzerland, Romania, Croatia, Moldova, Lithuania

  • Italy, Switzerland and Romania all picked up six points in September's matches.

Group H: Germany, Portugal, Serbia, Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria

  • Germany have two wins but trailed Serbia 1-0 at home in their second match before four Lea Schüller goals (adding two her two three days earlier against Bulgaria) ensured a 5-1 success. Portugal have four points having been held 1-1 in Turkey in their opener.

Group I: France, Wales, Slovenia, Greece, Kazakhstan, Estonia

  • Mateja Zver's 88th-minute penalty seemed to have given Slovenia a surprise draw with France only for Amel Majri to win and convert a spot kick for Les Bleues deep in added time to make it 3-2. France are on six points, as are Wales.
England beat North Macedonia in their first game under new coach Sarina Wiegman and followed up with victory in Luxembourg
England beat North Macedonia in their first game under new coach Sarina Wiegman and followed up with victory in LuxembourgThe FA via Getty Images

Team facts

  • Germany are aiming to follow their wins in 2003 and 2007.
  • Norway were the other European world champions in 1995.
  • Netherlands were runners-up in 2019.
  • Sweden won their second straight Olympic silver medal in August; they took World Cup bronze in 2019 having been runners-up to Germany in 2003.
  • Cyprus are making their Women's World Cup debut.
  • Luxembourg take part in a full qualifying group stage for the first time.
  • Taking part in UEFA Women's EURO 2022 from 6 to 31 July: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England (hosts), Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands (holders), Northern Ireland, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

Dates

Former champions Norway opened by beating Armenia and then defeated Kosovo
Former champions Norway opened by beating Armenia and then defeated KosovoUEFA via Getty Images

Qualifying group stage
16–21 September 2021
21–26 October 2021
25–30 November 2021
23 February 2022
7–12 April 2022
23–28 June 2022
1–6 September 2022

UEFA play-offs
3–11 October 2022

Finals: Continental allocation

Hosts: 2 (Australia, New Zealand)
AFC: 5
CAF: 4
CONCACAF: 4
CONMEBOL: 3
UEFA: 11
Inter-confederation play-offs: 3

Inter-confederation play-offs

A ten-team tournament will be held in Australia and New Zealand from 17 to 23 February 2023 to decide the last three finalists.

Continental allocation
AFC: 2
CAF: 2
CONCACAF: 2
CONMEBOL: 2
OFC: 1
UEFA: 1

The teams will be split into three groups, two of three teams and one of four, with seeding decided by FIFA ranking. All three groups will be played as separate knockout competitions with the winner of each qualifying for the finals. In the two three-team groups, the seeded team will go straight to the final (after playing a friendly against Australia or New Zealand) and meet the winner of a semi-final between the other two nations.