FIFA World Cup 1958
Although Argentina, Chile and Mexico had expressed interest (and precedent suggested that tournaments would alternate between Europe and South America), Sweden had been selected unopposed at the FIFA Congress held at the opening of the 1950 competition in Rio de Janeiro.
Of the 14 available places, nine were allocated to Europe, three to South America and one each to North/Central America and Asia/Africa. The Soviet Union entered for the first time and all four of the UK nations appeared in the finals. Israel qualified from the Asia/Africa section after all their opponents refused to play them and were required to play a two-legged eliminator against Wales (drawn from a pool of European runners-up) because FIFA had previously ruled that no team could qualify for the finals without playing at least one match (apart from the hosts and the holders). The former winners Italy and Uruguay both failed to qualify.
There was no seeding for the group stage but the draw was arranged so that each group would contain one team from western Europe, one from eastern Europe, one from the UK and one from the Americas. The group stage was played on a conventional round-robin format without extra-time. If the second and third placed teams finished level on points they would play off. Goal average would otherwise determine final placings but once the tournament started, FIFA announced that goal average would be used to separate second and third placed teams before resorting to a play-off. This was dropped after objections from the Swedish organisers.