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Premier League Ranked Best in the World by IFFHS

header3 logo Premier League Ranked Best in the World by IFFHS

Every year the IFFHS releases its ranking list of the top football leagues in the world. The Barclays Premier League won the honor for 2008, thanks largely to the fantastic performances in the Champions League from English clubs. This ranking was released in April, but on the eve of the Premier League season, I figured this would be a good time to revisit the list from last year.

Here are the IFFHS Top 15 worldwide domestic leagues:

1-     England

2-     Italy

3-     Argentina

4-     Spain

5-     Brazil

6-     Germany

7-     France

8-     Mexico

9-     Portugal

10- Ukraine

11- Turkey

12- Greece

13- Holland

14- Chile

15- Peru

Of interest to our readers in North America, the US/Canadian top flight, Major League Soccer was ranked the 77th best league in the world by the IFFHS.

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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.
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28 Responses to Premier League Ranked Best in the World by IFFHS

  1. Uarafool says:

    Why is Itay 2nd and not spain? they have better players and had 2 teams in Champs league Qfinal last year and 1 in semis the year before also won it! Italy none at the same stages, weird

  2. Thomas says:

    This would be a hard list to compare. Are they basing it on Champions League? Wouldn’t that put Spain as a better league than Italy?

    Parity, then I say Germany should be higher.

    I really doubt that the Argentine league is better than the Spanish. You could easily argue that Spain is the top league.

    In terms of parity, and the depth of teams, I would almost be inclined to rate the German league above the Italian. While Italy has a few top heavy teams, the drop off to the mid tiers is huge. Both in terms of talent and spending power. Then you have a German team like Bremen who push deep into the Uefa Cup (call this competition a joke, but it really isn’t at the latter stages), yet are fighting to finnish top 10 domestically.

    Italy added Eto’o, at the cost of arguably their best players, Kaka and Ibra. Italian football is in a downswing right now…still a top league, but definitely not #2.

  3. TC says:

    Surprising that Argentina shows up #3. Also would have expected to see the Russian league in the top 15.

  4. TC says:

    FYI, here is the IFFHS current world club top 10:
    1. FC Barcelona España/4 315,0
    Manchester United FC England/4 315,0
    3. Club Estudiantes de La Plata Argentina/4 295,0
    4. Chelsea FC London England/4 276,0
    5. FC Shakhtyor Donetsk Ukraina/3 257,0
    6. Liverpool FC England/4 248,0
    7. Arsenal FC London England/4 247,0
    8. Hamburger SV Deutschland/4 240,0
    9. Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto-Alegrense Brasil/4 224,0
    10.Cruzeiro EC Belo Horizonte Brasil/4 221,0

  5. Ivan says:

    Argentina’s clubs are in so much debt, that their season has been postponed indefinitely. Regardless, it is ludicrous to rank Argentina higher than Spain and Germany.
    What are Chile and Peru doing there?
    Spain should be tied for first w/ the Premier League, in my opinion.
    Russia should be in the top 15, for sure.
    The rest is more or less accurate.

  6. coachie says:

    seems completely bonkers. the MLS may be mediocre, but 77th in the world? And the Bundesliga gets the serious shaft here. I echo what everyone else has said.

  7. Colin says:

    It would be nice to know what IFFHS bases the rankings on, what data they use, and how they come up with that list. Seems a little off…

  8. DC says:

    77th ranked league in the world sounds ridiculous!

    • Cam says:

      ridiculous because 77th is too high! shouldn’t even be on the list… If you want to teach kids how to play boring football, watch the MLS.

  9. Perry says:

    They hate us for our freedom!

  10. Mike says:

    MLS- 77th??

    I seriously didnt know there were 77 countries that had organized football leagues…

    What the heck is the criteria for judgement?

  11. Ryan says:

    Argentina is a surprise.

    The MLS, however, sucks.

  12. Arsenal14 says:

    MLS 77th?!!! why is it now Lower? 1,589 seems more like it..I could go round up 20 of my friends and then find some homeless people off the street and we could have a better league than MLS..as a matter of fact I can go find 100 people who dont know a thing about the Beautiful game and get them together and we can have a better League than MLS…Boring boring boring soccer..Italy at number 2 is a frigin joke to..its a dieing league…if it wasnt for Jose the Special 1..I dont even think i would watch a game this year…I think Jose can go out and start a league with him and another 100 people and it would be better than MLS..Boring Boring MLS why is it even on tv anymore? why? I’m Amercian and i think this..I have tried many times to watch it I rather watch Tires Spin or bears sleep..thanks you

  13. Cam says:

    Totally agree that Spain should be at least 2nd if not equal 1st with England! Seems like they are scraping the bottom of the barel a bit to put Peru in there…

    MLS really shouldn’t be classified as a top league! Its like calling the A-League in Australia a top league…77th sounds about right for me although if it were lower I really wouldn’t be that shocked! The only reason I will watch the MLS is for Beckham. Sad I know but hey, there isn’t anything else making me want to watch it.

  14. Ian says:

    I have no idea how they come to this list, but whatever means they are using, its nonsense. MLS may be a long way behind the top Euro leagues, but its miles higher than 77th.

    This is my ranking, based purely on 23 years of watching football in a number of countries, and with no scientific basis whatsoever-

    1. England
    2.Spain
    3. Italy
    4.Germany
    5.France
    6. Portugal
    7.Holland
    8.Brazil
    9.Turkey
    10.Russia

    I don’t watch enough from other leagues to judge lower down that this, but I would assume Mexico and the US would come in the next 10 or so, as would Argentina, same for the English second tier (or ‘the championship’ as our coca cola/FA overlords have us call it)

    • The worst first division team in Mexico is better over the long haul than the best MLS team. MLS is nowhere near the 20th best league in the world. It’s not even close. Japan, Korea, and some of the Arab nations all have stronger leagues than MLS.

      • Thomas says:

        I know the sports are huge in all 3 of those countries. But would you saw a strength of the Arab clubs is from big money owners or does it come from a big fan base? I’m assuming some of the Arab clubs have some serious financial backing.

        Just from playing the sport here in America, and playing casually at my University, you can see how big the sport is in Korea and Arab nations.

    • praveen says:

      scotland…where it is there are some good teams like celtic,rangers

  15. Matthew says:

    Not quite following where you got your list from: Isn’t this the current list for 2009 and this puts MLS at 55th?

    http://www.iffhs.de/?b6e20fa3002f70d00ee2d17f7370eff3702bb1c2bb0e

    NB This entire ranking system is fundamentally flawed anyway in that it takes no account of second, third or fourth divisions within individual federations. It is widely recognized for example that the Coca-Cola Championship is the fourth largest supported league in the world (ahead of both Brazil and Argentina for example) and the level of competition there would not be much further behind. And you take Celtic and Rangers out of the SPL and I doubt the rest of the division could succeed in the English third division.

    • http://www.iffhs.de/?b6e28fa3002f71504e52d17f7370eff3702bb1c2bb11

      USA is 77th. It is a problem that they don’t rate lower leagues though because the CONCACAF success of the two USL teams last year would have helped the US rating, while it was punished by the failure of New England to beat a semi-pro team in the qualifying round.

      This year the US rating will be hurt by a Canadian team with 5 american roster players losing to a USL team with 11 american roster players. So, yes the system is flawed, but still it gives us the best comparison of top flights we can find.

    • Is that a complete final ranking? If it is, poor Mexico as they got penalized for Swine Flu and their forced withdrawal from Copa Lib and Copa Sudamericana. I think that is only a partial ranking, but interesting.

  16. Eddie says:

    Meaningless list … meant to get people in a tizzy.

  17. Matthew says:

    Not sure if this is a partial or a final list, but there are many other fundamental flaws aside from the fact it does not attempt to factor in lower divisions. Ranking the Brazilian and Argentinian Leagues at 2 and 3 is absolutely ludicrous as everyone knows that practically every good Brazilian and Argentinian player plays in Europe, usually in one of the top five leagues.

    And I understand that the creators of this list do not want to seem too Eurocentric, but how on earth could the Saudi Arabian league for instance rank higher than Holland, Portugal, Scotland, Belgium and Russia? Would anyone care to test that assumption with a six-team tournament pitting Rangers, FC Porto, AZ, Standard Liege and Rubin Kazan against whomever in the hell is the top placed Saudi team? Give me a break.

  18. Thomas says:

    I agree, Italy is a dying league.

    People say these things are cyclical…I have my doubts.

    We’ve entered an unprecedented era of football. The leagues that have secured big TV Deals (England, the big teams in Spain), will continue to have an advantage.

    As both of these leagues continue to draw the most talented players in the world, their profile will continue to go up. The next TV deal will be bigger.

    I feel that Italy is caught in a conundrum. Their big teams may be able to survive and stay competitive. But overall, their stuck in no mans land. England and Spain are the top dogs. Italy is in this place where they aren’t really able to compete with English/ big Spanish sides for players, yet lack the excitement and parity of the Bundesliga.

    I’ve grown my appreciation for Serie A, and the technical style they employ. But I will say, it doesn’t translate well to TV. And in comparison to the EPL, especially in the eyes of the casual fan, looks dull and subpar.

  19. vic says:

    You guys are crazy! There is more passion, technique, flair in one game from Argentina’s league than any of Europe. I hate Argentina by the way, they always beat us! Brazil league should be first in my opinion, they have 8-10 teams that can win the champions. Their B leagues would probably make it in the top 20.

  20. vic says:

    Brazil in the last 5 years, played the final of libertadores cup with two teams from their fountry ( 2005, 2006 ) and had a finalist in 2007, 2008, 2009. For the final for 2010 they have a guaranteed final spot since they have 2 semifinalist who will play each other. In my opinion the list is more or less acurate. The Ucranian league has gotten better thanks to the new Chelsea ” Shakktar ” , the dutch league is in the decline. PSV & Ajax have had no success in the international scene. Mexican league is extremely competitive, teams not as strong as Brazilians, but the league is probably more competitive than the Argentinian. In Mexico there is 16 teams playing for the national title instead of the regular 2-3 teams in Europe ( 2 teams battle for relegation ). They always win the Concacaf which is not a big accomplishment but also do well in Libertadores. Mexican teams have the best winning porcentage behind Brazilian teams. Chivas a team that plays with only Mexicans made it to the semifinal this year ( 3rd time in 3 tries ). I seen a lot of soccer from pretty much any league, hell I even watch the Asian champions, my ranking would be this:

    1) BRAZIL BRASILERAO. 8 – 10 teams capable of winning champions, 20 really strong teams in their league
    2) ENGLAND PREMIERSHIP – 4 teams capable of winning champions, very strong, head and shoulders above the rest of the league. Some decent teams in Tottenham, & rich Manchester City.
    3) SPAIN LA LIGA – Best team in history in Real Madrid, along with maybe the best team of the decade in Barcelona. Strong teams in A. Madrid ( winner of Europa cup 2010) Sevilla ( 2 time winner of Europa cup ), When the premier had 3 semifinalist in champions, the spanish had 3 in the europa cup. Valencia & Villareal also no pushovers.
    4) ITALIA CALCIO – Inter, Milan, Juve, Roma need I say more ? Living in the shadows of England & Spain after being the best league in the world during the 80s – 90s! Aaah what it meant to play in Italy during that era.
    5) ARGENTINA – Can anyone say Boca Bianchi ? 4 time winners? Competitive league with historic teams like Independiente, Estudiantes. Dying of River Plate a sign of the increasing competition from this league, no more Boca Jrs – River plate handtoss.
    6) GERMANY BUNDESLIGA- Resurgence of the germans after being in the top 3 in the 90s with Spain & Italy.
    7) MEXICO – 2nd most competitive league in the world. No real big teams like in the rest of the world. Analysts have given up trying to guess who will win each tournament. Cruz Azul as guest made it to libertadores in 2001. Played 3 years in Sudamericana as guests and had 3 final appearances, winning one. Pumas 2005, Pachuca 2006, America 2007, after that Concacaf stopped given permission to Mexico to play the tournament. Chivas is in the semifinal of libertadores. 4/4 semifinalist in the Concacaf champions league. Their success comes due to being by far the richest league in the new world.
    8) FRANCE – Not very competitive league with Lyon being the only good club in the country. I believe they won 8 out of the last 10 league titles? rich Monaco other decent team in the country making it to the final of the champions in 2003.
    9) PORTUGAL – Porto, Benfica, Sporting. Good teams. Rest of league weak.

    10) UCRAINE – why not ? Many magnates seem to want to buy their teams and turn them into the new Chelseas. Worked for Shakktar! Buying really good talent. Hell, they can afford to keep Nery Castillo in the fridge after 30mdd buy and paying him a fortune.

    * MLS – Well, it seems to be a topic. 77th in the world does not seem like a bad position historically. There was a lack of competition, the stadiums were not specific to football ( soccer ), not many star players, 12 team league at one point. BUT!!!!! This is a league with HUGE potential, it can be a true premier league! There is 18 teams not , and 3 more in the making, I think they want 26 teams in the league, which would be awesome! Most of teams are now in black instead of red. Many have / building soccer specific stadiums. Thierry Henry ( 32 ) just signed for the New York red bulls. Maybe Raul is on the way. This can easily be the best league in the world but it will take some time. I’d say in 10 years it could be in the top 15, maybe top 10. The Americans already have the best hockey, basquetball, football, baseball leagues in the world. They had the best female soccer league in the world at one point, so there is no reason they can have the best league in the world ( if they really wanted it! ) . Safe country, mega super rich, best infrastructure by far! USA by itself probably has more and better stadiums than all of Europe. I know for college football they have a few 100,000 seaters, just for college sports! ha! I saw the game where Inter won the calcio title. Wow, that’s suppose to be a first division stadium in a top league ? I gone to compete in High Schools that have better facilities.

    Anyway, my 2 cents. Hope you guys like my analysis of the top leagues.
    Let me know what you think!!

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