|Dates||16 June 1937 – 1 May 1938|
|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.
Due to the Spanish Civil War, Spain withdrew from the competition. The remaining 34 teams were divided into 12 groups, based on geographical considerations, as follows:
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:
Main article: 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification Group 1
|Bunke 60', 82'
|Josefsson 7', 41'
Jonasson 49' (pen.)
Wetterström 73', 77', 84'
|Lehner 50', 65'
Gauchel 53', 86'
|Siffling 2', 57'
Schön 48', 63'
Germany and Sweden qualified.
Main article: 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification Group 2
|2||Irish Free State||2||0||1||1||5||6||0.83||1|
|Norway||3–2||Irish Free State|
|Kvammen 30', 64'
|Irish Free State||3–3||Norway|
|Report||Kvammen 16', 33'
Main article: 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification Group 3
|Piątek 3', 20'
Poland finished above Yugoslavia on goal average, and thus qualified.
Egypt were to play Romania on 17 December 1937. However, Egypt withdrew from the competition after Egyptian officials objected to playing on this date since it was in the holy month of Ramadan. Therefore, Romania qualified after Egypt invited Austrian club side First Vienna to play the friendly match against the national team.
Main article: 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification Group 5
|Report||Peyroteo 72' (pen.)|
Main article: 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification Group 6
|Neufeld 36'||Report||Vikelidis 15', 30'
|Vikelidis 88' (pen.)||Report|
Greece qualified for the final round.
|Zsengellér 15', 23' (pen.), 25', 65', 81'
Titkos 18', 75'
Nemes 34', 40', 52'
Main article: 1938 FIFA World Cup qualification Group 7
|Panchediev 89' (pen.)||Report||Ríha 44'|
|Šimůnek 21', 79', 89'
Nejedlý 57', 77'
|Kaņeps 19', 52', 83'
|Paulionis 72'||Report||Kaņeps 4', 45' (pen.)
Borduško 11', 30'
Latvia qualified for the final round.
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.
de Boer 68', 78', 82'
de Vries 59'
|Isemborghs 53'||Report||van Spaandonck 37'|
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 for the second round.
All other teams than Cuba had withdrawn from competition, so thus qualified automatically for the finals.
|1||Dutch East Indies||Qualified|
Japan withdrew, so the Dutch East Indies qualified automatically.
|Team||Finals Appearance||Streak||Last Appearance|
|Dutch East Indies||1st||1||–|