|Teams||37 (from 3 confederations)|
|Goals scored||96 (4.36 per match)|
|Top scorer(s)|| Fricis Kaņeps|
(5 goals each)
A total of 37 teams entered the 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, competing for a total of 16 spots in the final tournament. For the first time the title holders and the host country were given automatic qualification. Therefore, France, as the hosts, and Italy, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 14 spots open for competition.
- Groups 1 to 9 - Europe: 11 places, contested by 23 teams (including Egypt and Palestine).
- Groups 10 and 11 - The Americas: 2 places, contested by 9 teams.
- Group 12 - Asia: 1 place, contested by 2 teams.
However, due to the withdrawal of Austria after qualifying (they had been annexed by Germany), only 15 teams actually competed in the final tournament. FIFA did not offer participation to the runner-up of the group that Austria had played in, Latvia.
A total of 21 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 22 qualifying matches were played, and 96 goals were scored (an average of 4.36 per match).
The 12 groups had different rules, as follows:
- Group 1 had 4 teams. The teams played against each other once. The group winner and runner-up would qualify.
- Groups 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 had 2 teams each. The teams, except in Group 5, played against each other on a home-and-away basis. The group winners would qualify. In Group 5, Switzerland and Portugal were to play only one match on a neutral ground with the winner to qualify.
- Groups 6 and 8 had 3 teams each. The strongest team of each group was seeded. There would be two rounds of play:
- First Round: The seeded team received a bye and advanced to the Final Round directly. The remaining 2 teams played against each other on a home-and-away basis. The winner would advance to the Final Round.
- Final Round: The seeded team played against the winner of the First Round at home. The winner would qualify.
- Group 9 had 3 teams. The teams played against each other once. The group winner and runner-up would qualify.
- Group 10 had 2 teams. The group winner would qualify.
- Group 11 had 7 teams. The group winner would qualify.
- Group 12 had 2 teams. The group winner would qualify.
- Teams highlighted in green qualified for the finals.
- Teams highlighted in Orange qualified for the final phase of their group.
|16 June 1937||Sweden||4 – 0||Finland||Stockholm, Sweden|
|Bunke 60', 82'
|Report||Stadium: Solna Råsunda Stadion|
Referee: Kolbjørn Daehlen (Norway)
|20 June 1937||Sweden||7 – 2||Estonia||Stockholm, Sweden|
|Josefsson 7', 41'
Jonasson 49' (pen.)
Wetterström 73', 77', 84'
|Stadium: Solna Råsunda Stadion|
Referee: Otto Remke (Denmark)
|29 June 1937||Finland||0 – 2||Germany||Helsinki, Finland|
Referee: Otto Remke (Denmark)
|19 August 1937||Finland||0 – 1||Estonia||Turku, Finland|
|Report||Kuremaa 56'||Stadium: Urheilupuisto|
Referee: Ivan Eklind (Sweden)
|29 August 1937||Germany||4 – 1||Estonia||Königsberg, Germany|
|Lehner 50', 65'
Gauchel 53', 86'
|Report||Siimenson 34'||Stadium: Horst-Wessel Stadion|
Referee: Bruno Pfützner (Czechoslovakia)
|21 November 1937||Germany||5 – 0||Sweden||Hamburg, Germany|
|Siffling 2', 57'
Schön 48', 63'
|Report||Stadium: Altonaer Stadion|
Referee: Bruno Pfützner (Czechoslovakia)
Germany and Sweden qualified.
|2||Irish Free State||2||0||1||1||5||6||0.83||1|
|10 October 1937||Norway||3 – 2||Irish Free State||Oslo, Norway|
|Kvammen 30', 64'
|Stadium: Ullevaal Stadion|
Referee: Peco Bauwens (Germany)
|7 November 1937||Irish Free State||3 – 3||Norway||Dublin, Irish Free State|
|Report||Kvammen 16', 33'
|Stadium: Dalymount Park|
Referee: Thomas Gibbs (England)
|10 October 1937||Poland||4 – 0||Yugoslavia||Warsaw, Poland|
|Piatek 3', 20'
|Report||Stadium: Stadion Wojska Polskiego|
Referee: Lucien Leclercq (France)
|3 April 1938||Yugoslavia||1 – 0||Poland||Belgrade, Yugoslavia|
|Marjanović 61'||Report||Stadium: Stadion BSK|
Referee: Rinadlo Barlassina (Italy)
Poland finished above Yugoslavia on goal average, and thus qualified.
Egypt were to play Romania on 17 December 1937, but Egypt refused to play Romania during the Ramadan month, with Egyptian officials arguing that it was "impossible" to play football during that time period.
After Egyptian officials invited Austrian club side First Vienna FC to Egypt to participate in a friendly game against the national team during the holy month, Egypt were withdrawn by FIFA, and Romania qualified automatically.
|1 May 1938||Switzerland||2 – 1||Portugal||Milan, Italy|
|Report||Peyroteo 72' (pen.)||Stadium: Stadio Civico Arena|
Referee: Francesco Mattea (Italy)
|2||Palestine, British Mandate||2||0||0||2||1||4||0.25||0|
|22 January 1938||Palestine, British Mandate||1 – 3||Greece||Tel-Aviv, Palestine/Eretz Israel|
|Neufeld 36'||Report||Vikelidis 15', 30'
|Stadium: Maccabiah Stadium|
Referee: Mohammed Youssef (Egypt)
|20 February 1938||Greece||1 – 0||Palestine, British Mandate||Athens, Greece|
|Vikelidis 88' (pen.)||Report||Stadium: Stadio Leoforos Alexandras|
Referee: Mika Popovic (Yugoslavia)
Greece qualified for the final round.
|25 March 1938||Hungary||11 – 1||Greece||Budapest, Hungary|
|Zsengellér 15', 23' (pen.), 25', 65', 81'
Titkos 18', 75'
Nemes 34', 40', 52'
|Report||Makris 89'||Stadium: Hungária|
Referee: Denis Xifando (Romania)
|7 November 1937||Bulgaria||1 – 1||Czechoslovakia||Sofia, Bulgaria|
|Panchediev 89' (pen.)||Report||Ríha 44'||Stadium: Junak Stadion|
Referee: Rinaldo Barlassina (Italy)
|24 April 1938||Czechoslovakia||6 – 0||Bulgaria||Prague, Czechoslovakia|
|Šimůnek 21', 79', 89'
Nejedlý 57', 77'
|Report||Stadium: AC Sparta Stadion|
Referee: Pál von Hertzka (Hungary)
|29 July 1937||Latvia||4 – 2||Lithuania||Riga, Latvia|
|Kaņeps 19', 52', 83'
|Stadium: ASK stadions|
Referee: Gustav Krist (Czechoslovakia)
|3 September 1937||Lithuania||1 – 5||Latvia||Kaunas, Lithuania|
|Paulionis 72'||Report||Kaņeps 4', 45' (pen.)
Borduško 11', 30'
|Stadium: Valstybinis stadionas|
Referee: Hans Frankenstein (Austria)
Latvia qualified for the final round.
|5 October 1937||Austria||2 – 1||Latvia||Vienna, Austria|
|Report||Vestermans 6'||Stadium: Stadion Prater|
Referee: Pál von Hercka (Hungary)
Austria qualified, but was later incorporated by Germany during the Anschluss. FIFA offered the place to England (winner of the 1937–38 British Home Championship), who had opted not to enter the competition, but they declined the offer; FIFA decided not to allow anyone else to qualify, leaving the World Cup one team short.
|28 November 1937||Netherlands||4 – 0||Luxembourg||Rotterdam, Netherlands|
de Boer 68', 78', 82'
|Report||Stadium: Stadion Feyenoord|
Referee: Karl Weingarter (Austria)
|13 March 1938||Luxembourg||2 – 3||Belgium||Luxembourg, Luxembourg|
de Vries 59'
|Stadium: Stade Municipal|
Referee: Georges Capdeville (France)
|3 April 1938||Belgium||1 – 1||Netherlands||Antwerp, Belgium|
|Isemborghs 53'||Report||van Spaandonck 37'||Stadium: Bosuil Stadion|
Referee: Arthur Jewell (England)
Netherlands and Belgium qualified.
Argentina withdrew, so Brazil qualified automatically.
Costa Rica, Dutch Guiana, El Salvador, Mexico, Colombia and the United States all withdrew, so Cuba qualified automatically.
|1||Dutch East Indies||Bye|
Japan withdrew, so Dutch East Indies qualified automatically.
|Team||Finals Appearance||Streak||Last Appearance|
|Dutch East Indies||1st||1||–|
- Austria withdrew after qualifying due to the Anschluss.
- (h) - qualified automatically as hosts
- (c) - qualified automatically as defending champions
11 of the 15 teams subsequently failed to qualify for the 1950 finals: Belgium, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dutch East Indies, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Romania.
- 5 goals
- 4 goals
- 3 goals
- 2 goals
- 1 goal
- It was originally intended that the World Cup would be held alternately between the continents of South America and Europe. However Jules Rimet, the creator of the World Cup, convinced FIFA to hold the competition in France, his home country. Because of this controversial move, many American countries, including Argentina (the most likely hosts if the event was held in South America), Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico, Dutch Guiana, Uruguay, and the United States, all withdrew or refused to enter.. Brazil and Cuba were the only countries from the Americas to enter qualification and thus qualified for the World Cup by default.