The European qualifying groups for the 2022 World Cup will be drawn at FIFA headquarters on Dec. 7, soccer’s world body said Thursday.
A gala ceremony with coaches of the 55 national teams had been set to be held in November until the coronavirus pandemic ruled out that plan.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, the ceremony will be held as a virtual event without the presence of member associations’ representatives,” said FIFA, which will broadcast and live-stream the draw from 6 p.m. local time (1700 GMT).
Seedings for the draw are based on the FIFA world rankings published on Nov. 26. Currently, the top-seeded teams would be the traditionally strongest nations plus Denmark. Just outside the top 10 are Switzerland and Poland.
Only the 10 group winners will advance directly to the 2022 tournament in Qatar. Three more will qualify through playoffs.
The 10 European group runners-up will be joined by two teams based on placings in the current Nations League program for a 12-team playoff bracket in March 2022.
Two rounds of single-leg elimination games will produce the final three qualifiers.