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Part 1: What is with the FIFA Rankings?!?!?!

fifa logo 600x438 Part 1: What is with the FIFA Rankings?!?!?!

Yes, the 2006 World Cup was an exciting event. Thirty two teams around the world competed for soccer’s top honor. Brazil gets knocked out early (early for Brazil that is), England made it as far as they usually do (no surprise there), and Italy surprises all with their victories, though they were aided by a lousy penalty kick call for them against Austraila.

And with the World Cup over, the new FIFA rankings come out. I am sure that the level of play that we saw on the field will be represented in the rankings, right?


After the World Cup, FIFA went with a new ranking system. In fact, these are the first rankings that FIFA has done with the system.

There are some good changes to the system. The rankings will only look at the last four years instead of the last eight years of results. Considering that some teams have completely changed faces in the last eight years, this only makes sense.

Still, looking at the changes, it looks just as complex as it was before.

So, lets look at new rankings. Ok, we have Brazil as number one. Uh…ok….I guess that is alright. But I have just come to the conclusion that the soccer community will just automatically pick Brazil as number one. Still, I think they will falter.

Continuing…Italy #2, ok, they won the Cup, can see that. Three…Argentina. I wouldn’t give them three, but they should be up there. France #4…I think they should be three.

England fifth! What! England looked horrible in this World Cup! Yet, they are fifth.

Uh, but wait, I am seeing a trend, lets see….England up five spots, Italy up eleven, France up four, Germany up ten, Switzerland up 22! Ukraine up 30! Serbia up 8! Scotland up 19! Bosnia up 20! Wales up 16!

It seems that this new point system give favor to UEFA teams. And guess what? It does. If a team defeats a UEFA team, they are awarded more points than a team that defeats another conference. And since many European teams play other European teams, this new formula will only benefit them.

Lets look at two teams to drive this point home. Ok, he have the mighty Ukrainians! They jumped 30 points. Here were their European wins since 2004: Luxembourg, Albania (in PK), Serbia, Denmark, Albania again, Turkey (impressive). Not exactly powerhouse results. Yet, they lost to France, England, Spain, Italy, The FYR of Macedonia.

Now, lets look at another team, Greece. Greece showed they were a great team by winning Euro 2004. Yet, in the new rankings, they dropped twelve places. Why? Lets look at the results. In the last year, they have only played three European teams. And even before that, Greece did well against European teams. Yet they played a lot more international games that Ukraine.

Therefore, it seems like it is better for your FIFA ranking if you lose to UEFA teams than defeat teams around the world.

And before the critics on here blast me and say ‘UEFA is the best’, let me just say this…Ukraine move up the rankings by DEFEATING ALBANIA TWICE!!!

With this new system, maybe the United States should scrap their entire schedule and play only in Europe. It seems that losing to the FYR of Macedonia will gain you more international respect than defeating Mexico.

Bad Rankings
Here are some of the rankings that just surprised me.

England #5
Guinea #24, up 27 spots
Greece #32
Australia #33 (should be higher)
Canada #54, up 29 spots
Soca Warriors #64, down 17
Albania #65, up 20 (those matches with the mighty Ukrainians helped)
Equatorial Guinea #95, UP 59! How the hell do you go up that much! Luxembourg must be pissed (look at rankings).

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

12 Responses to Part 1: What is with the FIFA Rankings?!?!?!

  1. Hernandez says:

    the fifa ranking is a total waste. no need to keep it going when everything is decided every four years in world cup play and in between in regional championships.

  2. Hat Trick Peter Crouch says:

    England is deserving of a high ranking. We made the final 8 at the World Cup and should have advanced further if not for the injury to Owen and the sending off to Rooney which was the fault of Ronaldo. In Euro 2004 we were also slighted by the refs and the same for the 2002 World Cup.

    FIFA must examine its officials all of whom seem to have an overwhelming anti-England bias.

  3. Federico says:

    Excellent article. The FIFA rankings are a joke and are now biased against CONCACAF.

    I will no longer even consider these rankings in the future. They seem to be so easily manipulated one way or another.

  4. Sams Army says:

    The US dropping from 5th to 16th was bullshit when we basically beat the World Champs, and then got cheated out of the Ghana game by the refs.

  5. The Three Lions says:

    Sams Army you continue to show why most people around the world hate yanks. You lost, get over it. We lost and we are getting over it. Italy and France were the victors. End of story. They should be 1 and 2 in the rankings with Brazil #3. Spots 4 thru 40 don’t matter. These rankings are rubbish anyhow.

  6. Zizou 06 says:

    Three Lions, it seems like you have gotten over it. But it is people like ‘hat trick peter crouch’ that seem to not have gotten over it.

    Honestly, I think the U.S. is ranked too high. I don’t think they are that great. I hate to say that, but it is true. They have a good core of ‘average’ players.

    Still, I think it is sad that, in one category, that a team can get more points for beating Luxembourg than beating Brazil.

  7. The Truth says:

    why did Trinidad far 17 spots when they drew with Sweden of UEFA? Doesn’t make any sense at all.

  8. Harvey says:

    The rankings are a total joke. While the USA should fall, 16th is a little low. Mexico fell to 18th which is crazy and T&T all the way down to 64th despite outplaying #5 England for 65 or 70 minutes in the World Cup!

    UEFA has the bias from this new ranking which is in itself unfair because European nations have all sorts of inherent advantages towards fiedling top national teams that non-euro nations do not have.

  9. Rafael says:

    The FIFA rankings are a fraud. How can Mexico and Australia which both made the 2nd round of the world cup be penalized because they play in poor federations? The whole system of rankings employed by FIFA has been suspect from the beginning. I believe the rankings should not exist and we can leave it to the pundits to determine any order. This whole idea of a ranking has just been a sick marketying scheme by FIFA.

  10. USA2010 says:

    A look at the recently released FIFA Coca-Cola World Rankings reveals some insight into the revisions made to the poll, first introduced in 1993. After widespread criticism indicating that its calculation formula was too complicated, FIFA announced that it would develop a new procedure for ranking the teams.

    “Transparency and simplicity – the key principles guiding the revision – have been combined with sporting criteria and statistical requirements to establish the new and simplified method of calculation that the FIFA Executive Committee ratified at its meeting in Leipzig, Germany, on 7 December 2005.

    The most important change to the calculation of the ranking is that it will no longer take into account the last eight years of results but only the last four. At the same time, all of the other factors previously taken into account (result, importance of match, strength of opponents, regional strength, number of matches considered) were tested, analysed and, in some cases, totally revised. In fact, two of the factors that were previously used (goals scored and home advantage) will no longer have any impact on the ranking.”
    –FIFA press release

    It is pretty clear that that CONMEBOL was the big winner in the revised rankings. The new “regional strength” weight moved up even those teams that didn’t appear in the World Cup. (Note: Numbers indicate movement from ranking released May 2006.)

    Peru +24
    Chile +18
    Bolivia +17
    Uruguay +8
    Columbia +6
    Venezuela +3

    Results were mixed for African teams as some moved up an others moved down.

    Ghana +23
    Ivory Coast +12
    Cameroon +3
    Senegal -7
    South Africa -19

    The big loser was the AFC whose teams failed to get results in Germany 2006, but somehow propped up the CONCACAF teams which did just as poorly.

    Japan -31
    Korea Republic -27
    Saudi Arabia -27
    Iran -24
    China -21
    United Arab Emirates -19

    CONCACAF teams got a mixed result. While the world cup teams are lucky to remain as high as they are in the revised rankings, some of the minnows got a bounce. Honduras is receiving a boost from their run in Copa America. I can’t explain what Canada did to move up 29. I believe USA and Mexico do belong in the top 20 teams of the world.

    We’ll see how long they stay there…………………………

    Costa Rica -19
    Mexico -14
    USA -11
    Honduras +4
    Guatemala +9
    Panama +22
    Canada +29

  11. The Three Lions says:

    Don’t get worked up about it lads. These rankings are ignored by the media and managers alike. They are utter rubbish!

  12. Harvey says:

    These rankings are a fraud. We all know that.

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