Qualification processThe qualification process commenced in August 2007 and will be completed in November 2009. An initial draw for preliminary qualification (qualifying groups in Oceania, and knockout ties in CAF and AFC) had been announced for Zurich on 28 May 2007, but none was held.
Initial groups for the Oceania qualification were eventually held in Auckland, New Zealand in early June, with preliminary draws for the Asian and African qualification announced in August.
The draw for the main 2010 World Cup qualifying groups was held in Durban, South Africa on 25 November 2007. 34 teams had been eliminated before the actual draw — 6 from OFC, 5 from CAF and 23 from AFC — and CONMEBOL qualification also had started (no draw was required for this confederation, as all 10 members play in the same group, with the order of fixtures the same as for the 2006 qualification rounds). The 4 remaining teams from OFC had also started playing the final stage as a single group, and no draw was needed. Therefore, the draw of 25 November involved 156 FIFA members from the original 205 entries, divided as follows: UEFA–53 entries in draw; CAF–48 entries in draw (original 53 minus 5 preliminary round losers and withdrawals); AFC–20 entries in draw (original 43 minus 23 1st and 2nd round losers and withdrawals); and CONCACAF–35 entries in draw.
The distribution by conference for the 2010 World Cup is:
- Europe (UEFA): 13 places
- Africa (CAF): 5 places (+ South Africa qualified automatically as host nation for a total of 6 places)
- Asia (AFC): 4 or 5 places
- South America (CONMEBOL) 4 or 5 places
- North, Central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 3 or 4 places
- Oceania (Oceania Football Confederation): 0 or 1 place
As the host nation, South Africa qualifies automatically. As in 2006, the holders - Italy - did not qualify automatically. They will be seeded similarly to the way Brazil was in the 2006 tournament.
 TiebreakersFor FIFA World Cup qualifying stages the method used for separating teams level on points is the same for all Confederations, as decided by FIFA itself. If teams are even on points at the end of group play, the tied teams will be ranked by:
- goal difference in all group matches
- greater number of goals scored in all group matches
- greater number of points obtained in matches between the tied teams
- goal difference in matches between the tied teams
- greater number of goals scored in matches between the tied teams
- drawing of lots, or a play-off (if approved by FIFA)