FIFA has changed the World Cup qualifying format for the intercontinental qualifiers to one-way matches at a neutral venue. The winners of the matches will take the last two places at next year’s World Cup in Qatar.
FIFA cited “an unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic” when scheduling matches for June, more than two months later than the pre-pandemic schedule. Singles matches also prevent teams from crossing multiple time zones for two-person matches.
No hosts have been announced for the two matches, which will be played on June 13 and 14.
The playoffs will involve teams from Asia, South America, Oceania and the North American region. Three of the playoff teams are expected to be known by the end of March. The entry of Asia is expected to be decided in a regional playoff just days before the intercontinental playoffs.
The two-legged intercontinental qualifiers were introduced for the 1986 World Cup and typically require long-haul travel.
FIFA will draw for the World Cup tournament on April 1 in Doha. Only 30 of the 32 qualified will be known at the time, the intercontinental playoffs still to come.
The draw for the intercontinental qualifiers will take place on November 26.
The World Cup is scheduled to start on November 21 and the final on December 21. 18th