FIFA Ranking: How? What? Why?

The latest FIFA ranking list was released on July 17th and it has posed many questions. Jack McCann discusses the need for a new ranking system.

A number of questions and discrepancies have emerged following FIFA’s release of the latest instalment of their official rankings. Some of the rankings of teams who performed poorly in Brazil have gone up, while some of the teams who did well have gone down. One has to wonder how this makes sense.

Germany, the Netherlands and Argentina, unsurprisingly, make up the top three in the rankings as they were the top three in Brazil. One would presume that Brazil, as they finished fourth at the World Cup, would find themselves placed fourth in the rankings. However, this is not the case.

After the top three there is a bit of a pick ‘n’ mix feel to the FIFA rankings.

FIFA use an algorithm, one that has been revised several times, in order to assess each nation’s rankings. The formula is as follows:

Points = M (points for match result) * I (importance of match) * T (strength of opponent) * C (strength of confederation)

M=This is the easy part, 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and none for a loss. Your bread and butter but an essential part of the rankings.

I= This is where the type of match is important. Friendlies obviously have the lowest amount of possible points and a World Cup game holds the highest.

T= T starts at 200, and depending on the rank of the opponent you minus that number from the 200. Therefore were a team to play Germany, then T= 199, whereas against Russia T=177.

C= This is based on what confederation a team is based in, with Europe and South America both earning the highest possible 1.0, whereas playing the Oceanic countries, like Australia, would earn you only 0.88. This is the most flawed part of the whole formula, with FIFA slapping a figure on how good a team is, pretty much based on how the other teams do in the same region.

However, just because Greece are in Europe doesn’t mean that they are better than say, Nigeria. This section automatically puts teams in the Oceanic and Africa/Asia confederations at a disadvantage as they are automatically perceived as weakest so will always get less points unless they play a team from the same area, than the mean of the number is used.

The last little bit is the year in which the game was played during the four year cycle, with games in the first year worth five times less than in the fourth year. Surely it shouldn’t matter what year the game was played, they are, or should all be, of equal importance during the review cycle.

The formula completely ignores final score goal difference, home advantage and stakes.

In terms of the goal difference, even though Germany demolished Brazil in under half an hour and ended up with a six-goal difference and Argentina only beat the Dutch on penalties after a 0-0 draw, they would both still get the same points, roughly speaking. Surely Germany should have gotten double, if not triple, the points compared to Argentina were the rankings to be calculated in a more efficient way.

Ignoring what’s at stake in a game seems an extremely naïve thing to do. Surely, if played with the right attitude, every game has something at stake? Whether it be pride or the hopes of a nation at a World Cup.

FIFA’s system should be changed so that it truly represents what has gone on on the International Football scene over six months, one year or four years.

They could introduce something along the lines of tiered friendlies.

Tier one, two, three, etc. Each team could only play the team in the tier directly above or below. Once they have reached a certain points requirement, a team would get promoted to the next tier, on merit and not by how many friendlies they played against weaker opposition.

This would prevent useless, one-sided friendlies and would help to promote football to all parts of the globe.

Critics of this would say it’s too rigid an idea, however, nobody seems to be able to think of another possibility as of yet.

Jack McCann, Pundit Arena.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.