Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughFIFA rankings not as ludicrous as they seem - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough FIFA rankings not as ludicrous as they seem - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

FIFA rankings not as ludicrous as they seem

The FIFA world rankings system has come in for an awful lot of stick lately and rightly so for reasons about as numerous as the number of times a Premier League football drops a c-bomb on the pitch.

 The example in vogue currently is that England sit proudly in fourth place in the rankings above such teams as Italy, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil and just three points off Uruguay in third place who they will soon replace for reasons explained later.

Past examples of similar mirth-worth included limited teams such as the USA sitting in the top ten for an inordinate amount of time and South Korea doing likewise not too long ago.

All nice, easy sticks which can be picked up and beaten over the heads of FIFA again and again and again and again and again and more times than that (you’d never guess I was filling space).

So much so that FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke had to come out and defended the system yesterday, saying There are teams who are playing more friendly games than other teams and you can see a difference which is not very logical, but the ranking I would say is clearly still a good picture of the level of international football.”

In my humble one, if you check out the FIFA rankings (and I heartily endorse clicking the link to see a rather laughable advert about FIFA-quality goalline technology at the very least) then both the system and the rankings themselves make rather good sense.

Let us start with the boring science, well, maths really, bit and look at the formula for calculating points.

Firstly, the system works on two sliding scales. The first is based on the average number of ‘points’ gained in matches in the previous 12 months and the second is the average number of ‘points’ gained from matches older than 12 months which deprecates yearly until matches older than four years are wiped.

Thus, we have a system that takes into account immediate current form and contextual form accounting for previous medium term successes.

Secondly, the ‘points’ are calculated using four indicators; the outcome of the match in question, the importance of the match (friendly right up to World Cup match), the strength of the opposing team based on world rankings and the football confederation they belong to.

In layman’s terms, you get more ‘points’ for in a World Cup final against the team ranked 1st in the world and is from Europe than you would, say, winning in a friendly against a team that is ranked 152nd and is from Australasia.

All fair and logical to me, particularly as teams cannot rack up the friendly matches that they play to skew the results too much as those matches count for less.

On to the rankings themselves and the issue here with the criticism seems to be that of a overtly short-termist view point.

Italy for example are ranked sixth which people claim is too low for a team that reached the Euros final but the point is that before the tournament, they had been on a terrible run of form and had fallen at the group stage of the World Cup in 2010.

If the Netherlands were to reach the World Cup final in 2014 the system would rightly hold them back as they flopped so comprehensively at this year’s Euros.

France are rightly down in 14th after a similarly (to Italy) disastrous World Cup 2010 campaign only mildly augmented by a quarter final appearance in the Euros whilst Brazil are suffering for their lack of competitive games which is a truer anomaly of the system.

Elsewhere, England sit 4th (soon to be 3rd when the cycle including Uruguay’s Copa America result deprecates) as they have only technically lost three competitive games in the last four years whilst Germany and Spain are way out in front due to their respective records.

By all means, England would probably lose to most of the other teams in the top ten but that is a subjective judgement. The rankings are objective as every team faces the same criteria.

Just because there are freak standings like England’s doesn’t diminish the value of the rankings which serve to indicate the best teams on form in the world, not necessarily who would beat who in a knock-out match style game.


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