1978 FIFA World Cup qualification
|Teams||107 (from 6 confederations)|
|Goals scored||723 (2.87 per match)|
A total of 107 teams entered the 1978 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, which began with the preliminary qualification draw on 20 November 1975 at Guatemala City, competing for a total of 16 spots in the final tournament. Argentina, as the hosts, and West Germany, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 14 spots open for competition.
The 16 spots available in the 1978 World Cup would be distributed among the continental zones as follows:
- Europe (UEFA): 9 or 10 places, 1 of them went to automatic qualifier West Germany, while 9 places were contested by 31 teams. The team coming ninth in qualifying would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from CONMEBOL).
- South America (CONMEBOL): 3 or 4 places, 1 of them went to automatic qualifier Argentina, while the other 3 places were contested by 9 teams. The team coming third in qualifying would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from UEFA).
- North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 1 place, contested by 17 teams.
- Africa (CAF): 1 place, contested by 26 teams.
- Asia (AFC) and Oceania (OFC): 1 place, contested by 22 teams.
A total of 95 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 252 qualifying matches were played, and 723 goals were scored (an average of 2.87 per match).
To see the dates and results of the qualification rounds for each continental zone, click on the following articles:
- Group 1 - Poland qualified.
- Group 2 - Italy qualified.
- Group 3 - Austria qualified.
- Group 4 - Netherlands qualified.
- Group 5 - France qualified.
- Group 6 - Sweden qualified.
- Group 7 - Scotland qualified.
- Group 8 - Spain qualified.
- Group 9 - Hungary advanced to the UEFA / CONMEBOL Intercontinental Play-off.
- Brazil and Peru qualified.
- Bolivia advanced to the UEFA / CONMEBOL Intercontinental Play-off.
- Mexico qualified.
- Tunisia qualified.
- Iran qualified.
The teams would play against each other on a home-and-away basis. The winner would qualify.
|29 October 1977||Hungary||6 – 0||Bolivia||Budapest, Hungary|
| Nyilasi 12'
| Referee: Barreto Ruiz (Uruguay)
|30 November 1977||Bolivia|| 2 – 3
(2 – 9 agg.)
|Hungary||La Paz, Bolivia|
|Aragonés 45' (pen.), 90'|| Tórócsik 36'
Del Llano 84' (o.g.)
| Referee: Corver (Netherlands)
The following 16 teams qualified for the 1978 FIFA World Cup:
|Team||Finals Appearance||Streak||Last Appearance|
|West Germany (c)||9th||7||1974|
(h) - qualified automatically as hosts
(c) - qualified automatically as defending champions
- For the first time, over 100 teams entered qualification for the World Cup.
- Statistically, this was the most difficult World Cup to qualify for. Not counting the two automatic places and teams who withdrew before playing, 95 teams competed for 14 places (14.7%). The number of spots was increased to 24 for the next World Cup.
- Tunisia's victory over Morocco on penalties was the first penalty shootout in World Cup qualification matches.