|Dates||26 March 1980 – 10 January 1982|
|Teams||109 (from 6 confederations)|
|Goals scored||797 (2.6 per match)|
|Top scorer(s)|| Gary Cole |
(9 goals each)
A total of 109 teams entered the 1982 FIFA World Cup qualification rounds, which began with the preliminary qualification draw on 14 October 1979 at Zürich, competing for a total of 24 spots in the final tournament, an increase from 16 in the previous World Cups. Spain, as the hosts, and Argentina, as the defending champions, qualified automatically, leaving 22 spots open for competition.
The 24 spots available in the 1982 World Cup would be distributed among the continental zones as follows:
- Europe (UEFA): 14 places, one to automatic qualifier Spain, while the other 13 places were contested by 33 teams (including Israel).
- South America (CONMEBOL): 4 places, one to automatic qualifier Argentina, while the other 3 places were contested by 9 teams.
- North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 2 places, contested by 15 teams.
- Africa (CAF): 2 places, contested by 29 teams.
- Asia (AFC) and Oceania (OFC): 2 places, contested by 21 teams.
A total of 103 teams played at least one qualifying match. A total of 306 qualifying matches were played, and 797 goals were scored (an average of 2.60 per match).
The following 24 teams qualified for the 1982 FIFA World Cup:
|Spain||Host||6 July 1966||6th||1978||2||Fourth place (1950)|
|Argentina||1978 FIFA World Cup Winners||25 June 1978||8th||1978||3||Winners (1978)|
|Brazil||CONMEBOL Group 1 Winners||22 March 1981||12th||1978||12||Winners (1958, 1962, 1970)|
|Chile||CONMEBOL Group 3 Winners||14 June 1981||6th||1974||1||Third place (1962)|
|Peru||CONMEBOL Group 2 Winners||6 September 1981||4th||1978||2||Quarter-finals (1970), Second round (1978)|
|Belgium||UEFA Group 2 Winners||9 September 1981||6th||1970||1||First round (1930, 1934, 1938, 1954, 1970)|
|Poland||UEFA Group 7 Winners||10 October 1981||4th||1978||3||Third place (1974)|
|Scotland||UEFA Group 6 Winners||14 October 1981||5th||1978||3||First round (1954, 1958, 1974, 1978)|
|West Germany||UEFA Group 1 Winners||14 October 1981||10th||1978||8||Winners (1954, 1974)|
|Algeria||CAF Final round Winners||30 October 1981||1st||—||1||—|
|Hungary||UEFA Group 4 Winners||31 October 1981||8th||1978||2||Runners-up (1938, 1954)|
|Italy||UEFA Group 5 Runners-up||14 November 1981||10th||1978||6||Winners (1934, 1938)|
|Honduras||1981 CONCACAF Championship Champions||16 November 1981||1st||—||1||—|
|England||UEFA Group 4 Runners-up||18 November 1981||7th||1970||1||Winners (1966)|
|Northern Ireland||UEFA Group 6 Runners-up||18 November 1981||2nd||1958||1||Quarter-finals (1958)|
|Soviet Union||UEFA Group 3 Winners||18 November 1981||5th||1970||1||Fourth place (1966)|
|Yugoslavia||UEFA Group 5 Winners||21 November 1981||7th||1974||1||Fourth place (1930, 1962)|
|Austria||UEFA Group 1 Runners-up||22 November 1981||5th||1978||2||Third place (1954)|
|El Salvador||1981 CONCACAF Championship Runners-up||22 November 1981||2nd||1970||1||First round (1970)|
|Cameroon||CAF Final round Winners||29 November 1981||1st||—||1||—|
|Czechoslovakia||UEFA Group 3 Runners-up||29 November 1981||7th||1970||1||Runners-up (1934, 1962)|
|France||UEFA Group 2 Runners-up||5 December 1981||8th||1978||2||Third place (1958)|
|Kuwait||AFC and OFC Final round Winners||14 December 1981||1st||—||1||—|
|New Zealand||AFC and OFC Final round play-off Winners||10 January 1982||1st||—||1||—|
10 of the 24 teams subsequently failed to qualify for the 1986 finals: Austria, Cameroon, Chile, Czechoslovakia, El Salvador, Honduras, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru and Yugoslavia.
To see the dates and results of the qualification rounds for each continental zone, click on the following articles:
- Group 1 - West Germany and Austria qualified.
- Group 2 - Belgium and France qualified.
- Group 3 - USSR and Czechoslovakia qualified.
- Group 4 - Hungary and England qualified.
- Group 5 - Yugoslavia and Italy qualified.
- Group 6 - Scotland and Northern Ireland qualified.
- Group 7 - Poland qualified.
- Group 1 - Brazil qualified.
- Group 2 - Peru qualified.
- Group 3 - Chile qualified.
- Honduras and El Salvador qualified.
- Algeria and Cameroon qualified.
- Kuwait and New Zealand qualified.
- 9 goals
- 8 goals
- 7 goals
- 6 goals
- The away goals rule was used for the first time as a tie-breaker for two-legged ties. Niger advanced twice due to this rule, eliminating Somalia and Togo.
- With the expansion of the final tournament, this marked the first time two teams from Africa and Asia qualified.
- New Zealand set numerous records on their first successful campaign. They played 15 qualifying matches and travelled 55,000 miles during qualification. Their 13–0 score against Fiji set a World Cup record as did Steve Sumner's six goals in that match. Also during qualifying goalkeeper Richard Wilson went a world cup record 921 minutes without conceding a goal.