|Teams||116 (from 6 confederations)|
|Goals scored||735 (2.34 per match)|
|Top scorer(s)|| Marc Van Der Linden|
(7 goals each)
The qualification competition for the 1990 FIFA World Cup was a series of tournaments organised by the six FIFA confederations. Each confederation — the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Confederation of African Football (CAF), CONCACAF (North America), CONMEBOL (South America), Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), and UEFA (Europe) — was allocated a certain number of the 24 places at the tournament. A total of 116 teams entered the competition, with Italy, as the host, and Argentina, as the holders, qualifying for the final tournament automatically.
The first qualification match was played on 17 April 1988 and qualification concluded on 19 November 1989. A total of 735 goals were scored in the 314 qualifying matches (an average of 2.34 per match).
At the close of entries on 30 September 1987, a total of 116 football associations had entered the 1990 World Cup. This entry figure was five lower than those who originally entered the previous tournament, a then-World Cup record of 121 entries.
Three entries were rejected by FIFA: Belize, Mauritius and Mozambique due to their outstanding financial debts, taking the number of accepted teams down to 113. With both the hosts and holders qualifying automatically for the finals, 111 nations were therefore scheduled to compete in the qualifying competitions. Gabon, Oman and Pakistan were making their first appearance in the World Cup.
Seven teams withdrew during the qualifying process without playing a match: Bahrain, India, Lesotho, Maldives, Rwanda, South Yemen and Togo. Mexico were disqualified from the CONCACAF qualifying tournament before playing a game for fielding overage players in the qualifying stages for the 1988 Olympic Games. Libya withdrew during the CAF group stage, but had already (successfully) played in the first round. Therefore, the total number of teams playing at least one fixture during the 1990 World Cup competition was 105 (103 during qualifying).
Main article: 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC)
First round, the 22 teams are divided into 6 groups, 4 groups of 4 teams and 2 groups of 3 teams. the winners advance to the final round. Final round, the 6 teams played each other once, the winner and runner up qualify
Main article: 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification (CAF)
Rwanda and Togo both withdrew. The remaining teams played playoff games on a home and away basis. The Winners advance to the group stage. Group stage, the 16 teams are divided into 4 groups of 4 teams. The winners advance to the final round. Final round, the 4 teams play playoff games on a home and away basis, the winners would qualify.
Main article: 1989 CONCACAF Championship
First round, the 10 teams played playoff games each other in a home and away basis the winners advice to the second round. In the second round, Mexico, who had a bye, were disqualified, allowing Costa Rica to proceed by walkover; the remaining 8 teams played playoff games each other on a home and away basis, the winners advance to the final round, Final round, the 5 teams played each other on a home and away basis, the winner and runner up qualify.
Main article: 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONMEBOL)
The 9 teams are divided into 3 groups of 3 teams
Main article: 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification (OFC)
The 4 teams are divided into 2 groups of 2 teams. The winners advance to the final round. Final round, the 3 teams played each other twice. The winner advanced to an intercontinental playoff against a CONMEBOL member.
Main article: 1990 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA)
The 32 teams are divided into 7 groups, 4 groups of 5 teams and 3 groups of 4 teams each.
The winning team of the OFC qualification tournament played the CONMEBOL group winner with the weakest record in a home-and-away play-off. The winner of this play-off qualified for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
|Team 1||Agg.||Team 2||1st leg||2nd leg|
The following 24 teams qualified for the 1990 FIFA World Cup:
|Streak||Previous best performance|
|Argentina||Defending champions||29 June 1986||10th||5||Winners (1978, 1986)|
|Austria||UEFA Group 3 Runners-up||15 November 1989||6th||1 (Last: 1982)||Third place (1954)|
|Belgium||UEFA Group 7 Winners||25 October 1989||8th||3||Fourth place (1986)|
|Brazil||CONMEBOL Group Winners||10 September 1989||14th||14||Winners (1958, 1962, 1970)|
|Cameroon||CAF Final Round Winners||19 November 1989||2nd||1 (Last: 1982)||Group Stage (1982)|
|Colombia||CONMEBOL v OFC Play-off Winners||30 October 1989||2nd||1 (Last: 1962)||Group Stage (1962)|
|Costa Rica||CONCACAF Championship Winners||16 July 1989||1st||1||–|
|Czechoslovakia||UEFA Group 7 Runners-up||15 November 1989||8th||1 (Last: 1982)||Runners-up (1934, 1962)|
|Egypt||CAF Final Round Winners||17 November 1989||2nd||1 (Last: 1934)||First Round (1934)|
|England||UEFA Group 2 Runners-up||15 November 1989||9th||3||Winners (1966)|
|Italy||Hosts||19 May 1984||12th||8||Winners (1934, 1938, 1982)|
|South Korea||AFC Final Round Winners||25 October 1989||3rd||2||Group Stage (1954, 1986)|
|Netherlands||UEFA Group 4 Winners||15 November 1989||5th||1 (Last: 1978)||Runners-up (1974, 1978)|
|Republic of Ireland||UEFA Group 6 Runners-up||15 November 1989||1st||1||–|
|Romania||UEFA Group 1 Winners||15 November 1989||5th||1 (Last: 1970)||Group Stage (1930, 1934, 1938, 1970)|
|Scotland||UEFA Group 5 Runners-up||15 November 1989||7th||5||Group Stage (1954, 1958, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986)|
|Spain||UEFA Group 6 Winners||11 October 1989||8th||4||Fourth place (1950)|
|Sweden||UEFA Group 2 Winners||11 October 1989||8th||1 (Last: 1978)||Runners-up (1958)|
|United Arab Emirates||AFC Final Round Runners-up||28 October 1989||1st||1||–|
|United States||CONCACAF Championship Runners-up||19 November 1989||4th||1 (Last: 1950)||Third place (1930)|
|Uruguay||CONMEBOL Group Winners||24 September 1989||9th||2||Winners (1930, 1950)|
|Soviet Union||UEFA Group 3 Winners||15 November 1989||7th||3||Fourth place (1966)|
|West Germany||UEFA Group 4 Runners-up||15 November 1989||12th||10||Winners (1954, 1974)|
|Yugoslavia||UEFA Group 5 Winners||11 October 1989||8th||1 (Last: 1982)||Fourth place (1930, 1962)|