FIFA World Rankings
|Top 20 rankings as of 7 June 2018|
|*Change from 17 May 2018|
|Complete rankings at FIFA.com|
The FIFA World Ranking is a ranking system for men's national teams in association football, currently led by Germany. The teams of the member nations of FIFA, football's world governing body, are ranked based on their game results with the most successful teams being ranked highest. The rankings were introduced in December 1992, and eight teams (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) have held the top position, of which Brazil have spent the longest ranked first.
A points system is used, with points being awarded based on the results of all FIFA-recognised full international matches.
The ranking system has been revamped on several occasions, generally responding to criticism that the preceding calculation method did not effectively reflect the relative strengths of the national teams. The latest calculation method will be used for the first time starting on 19 July 2018 and reflect matches held during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
In December 1992, FIFA first published a listing in rank order of its member associations to provide a basis for comparison of the relative strengths of these teams. From the following August, this list was more frequently updated, to be published most months. Significant changes were implemented in January 1999 and again in July 2006, as a reaction to criticisms of the system. Historical records of the rankings, such as listed at FIFA.com, reflect the method of calculation in use at the time, as the current method has not been applied retrospectively to rankings prior to July 2006. Membership of FIFA has expanded from 167 to 209 since the rankings began; all 209 members are currently included in the rankings.
1993–1998 calculation methodEdit
The ranking formula used from August 1993 until December 1998 was very simplistic and quickly became noticed for its lack of supporting factors. When the rankings were initially introduced, a team received one point for a draw or three for a victory in FIFA-recognised matches – much the same as a traditional league scoring system. This was a quite simplistic approach, however, and FIFA quickly realised that there were many factors affecting international matches.
1999–2006 calculation methodEdit
In January 1999, FIFA introduced a revised system of ranking calculation, incorporating many changes in response to criticism of inappropriate rankings. For the ranking all matches, their scores and importance were all recorded, and were used in the calculation procedure. Only matches for the senior men's national team were included. Separate ranking systems were used for other representative national sides such as women's and junior teams, for example the FIFA Women's World Rankings. The women's rankings were, and still are, based on a procedure which is a simplified version of the Football Elo Ratings.
The major changes were as follows:
- the point ranking was scaled up by a factor of ten
- the method of calculation was changed to take into account factors including:
- the number of goals scored or conceded
- whether the match was played at home or away
- the importance of a match or competition
- regional strength
- a fixed number of points were no longer necessarily awarded for a victory or a draw
- match losers were able to earn points
Two new awards were introduced as part of the system:
The changes made the ranking system more complex, but helped improve its accuracy by making it more comprehensive.
2006–2018 calculation methodEdit
FIFA announced that the ranking system would be updated following the 2006 World Cup. The evaluation period was cut from eight to four years, and a simpler method of calculation was used to determine rankings. Goals scored and home or away advantage were no longer taken into account, and other aspects of the calculations, including the importance attributed to different types of match, were revised. The first set of revised rankings and the calculation methodology were announced on 12 July 2006.
This change was rooted at least in part in widespread criticism of the previous ranking system. Many football enthusiasts felt it was inaccurate, especially when compared to other ranking systems and that it was not sufficiently responsive to changes in the performance of individual teams.
2018 ranking system updateEdit
In September 2017, FIFA announced they were reviewing the ranking system and will decide after the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification if any changes are to be made to improve the ranking.. FIFA announced on 10 June 2018 that the ranking system would be updated following the 2018 World Cup.
The calculation method to be adopted will be closely modeled after the Elo rating system and rankings of its member associations will be updated on a game-by-game basis. The weighting designated for each confederation for ranking purposes will be abolished. However, the new methodology does not account for home or away games and margin of the victory, as Elo rankings.
When the system was introduced, Germany débuted as the top-ranked team following their extended period of dominance in which they had reached the three previous FIFA World Cup finals, winning one of them. Brazil took the lead in the run up to the 1994 FIFA World Cup after winning eight and losing only one of nine qualification matches, while on the way scoring twenty goals and conceding just four. Italy then led for a short time on the back of their own equally successful World Cup qualifying campaign, after which the top place was re-claimed by Germany.
Brazil's success in their lengthy qualifying campaign returned them to the lead for a brief period. Germany led again during the 1994 World Cup, until Brazil’s victory in that competition gave them a large lead that would stand up for nearly seven years, until they were surpassed by a strong France team that captured both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2000 European Football Championship.
Success at the 2002 FIFA World Cup restored Brazil to the top position, where they remained until February 2007, when Italy returned to the top for the first time since 1993 following their 2006 FIFA World Cup win in Germany. Just one month later, Argentina replaced them, reaching the top for the first time, but Italy regained its place in April. After winning the Copa América 2007 in July, Brazil returned to the top, but were replaced by Italy in September and then Argentina in October.
In July 2008, Spain took over the lead for the first time, having won UEFA Euro 2008. Brazil began a sixth stint at the top of the rankings in July 2009 after winning the 2009 Confederations Cup, and Spain regained the title in November 2009 after winning every match in qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In April 2010, Brazil returned to the top of the table. After winning the 2010 World Cup, Spain regained the top position and held it until August 2011, when the Netherlands reached the top spot for the first time, only to relinquish it the following month.
In July 2014, Germany took over the lead once again, having won the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In July 2015, Argentina reached the top spot for the first time since 2008, after reaching both the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final, as well as the 2015 Copa America Final. In November 2015, Belgium became the leader in the FIFA rankings for the first time, after topping their Euro 2016 qualifying group. Belgium led the rankings until April 2016, when Argentina returned to the top. On April 6, 2017, Brazil returned to the No. 1 spot for the first time since just prior to the 2010 World Cup, but Germany regained the top spot in July after winning the Confederations Cup.
Uses of the rankingsEdit
The rankings are used by FIFA to rank the progression and current ability of the national football teams of its member nations, and claims that they create "a reliable measure for comparing national A-teams". They are used as part of the calculation, or the entire grounds to seed competitions. In the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification tournament, the rankings were used to seed the groups in the competitions involving CONCACAF members (using the May rankings), CAF (with the July set of data), and UEFA, using the specially postponed November 2007 ranking positions.
The October 2009 ranking was used to determine the seeds for the 2010 FIFA World Cup final draw. The March 2011 ranking was used to seed the draw for the 2012 CAF Men's Pre-Olympic Tournament second qualifying round.
The rankings are also used to determine the winners of the two annual awards national teams receive on the basis of their performance in the rankings.
The English Football Association uses the average of the last 24 months of rankings as one of the criteria for player work permits.
Since their introduction in 1992, the FIFA World Rankings have been the subject of much debate, particularly regarding the calculation procedure and the resulting disparity between generally perceived quality and world ranking of some teams. For example, Norway was ranked second in October 1993 and July–August 1995, and the United States reached fourth in 2006, to the surprise of even their own players. However, criticism regarding the unrealistic ranking continued even after the introduction of the new formula. Israel's climb to 15th in November 2008 raised a few eyebrows even in the Israeli press, with the team missing a huge opportunity to break into the top 10 after conceding a last gasp equaliser against Latvia. Similarly, Belgium's rank of world number 1 in November 2015 was met with scepticism in the press, given that Belgium had only played in one tournament final stage in the past 13 years.
Prior to July 2006, one of the main criticisms was that the rankings considered the performances of teams over an eight-year period, and that teams' ranking positions did not correlate to their recent performances. This criticism has lessened somewhat with the introduction of a new formula, reflecting results over a four-year period, introduced in July 2006. However, problems remain, particularly that hosts of some major tournaments do not take part in qualifying rounds, and instead participate only in friendlies which offer fewer points.
This has been a factor which has resulted in 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil falling to a record low ranking of 22nd in the world. The perceived flaws in the FIFA system have led to the creation of a number of alternative rankings from football statisticians, including the World Football Elo Ratings and the rec.sport.soccer Statistics Foundation rankings.
The current system has been criticised for being open to abuse. National teams can maintain a higher average score by playing fewer friendly matches, particularly against weaker opponents. For example, Switzerland were seeded for the 2014 World Cup draw, largely thanks to only playing three friendly matches in the previous year. Switzerland would have reduced their rating if they had played any more friendlies, as their average score was greater than the maximum possible score from winning a friendly match against the top-ranked nation.
Lastly, the use of regional strength multiplier in the ranking determination formula has been accused of further reinforcing and perpetuating the bias for and against certain regions. FIFA's use of regional multiplier has been cited as a primary reason why most teams in AFC and CONCACAF have significantly lower FIFA rankings compared to their Elo rating based rankings.
Current calculation methodEdit
On June 10, 2018, the new ranking system was approved by the FIFA Council. It is based on the Elo rating system and after each game points will be added/substracted to/from a team's rating according to the formula:
- – the number of team's points before the game
- I – the importance coefficient:
- 0.5 – friendlies played outside the International Match Calendar windows
- 1.0 – friendlies played within the International Match Calendar windows
- 1.5 – Nations League matches (group stage)
- 2.5 – Nations League matches (play-offs and finals)
- 2.5 – Confederations final competitions qualifiers, FIFA World Cup qualifiers
- 3.5 – Confederations final competitions matches (before quarter-finals)
- 4.0 – Confederations final competitions matches (quarter-finals and later), FIFA Confederations Cup matches
- 5.0 – FIFA World Cup matches (before quarter-finals)
- 6.0 – FIFA World Cup matches (quarter-finals and later)
- W – the result of the game: 0 – loss, 0.5 – draw, 1 – win
- We – the expected result of the game: , where dr is the difference between two teams' ratings before the game
The defeats in knockout stages of final competitions will not affect teams' ratings.
Each year FIFA hands out two awards to its member nations, based on their performance in the rankings. They are:
Team of the YearEdit
Team of the Year is awarded to the team that finishes top of the FIFA World Ranking. Germany are the Team of the Year for the third time in the 24-year history of the rankings. Brazil hold the records for most consecutive wins (seven, between 1994 and 2000) and most wins overall (twelve). The table below shows the three best teams of each year.
|Year||First place||Second place||Third place|
Performances by countriesEdit
|Team||First place||Second place||Third place|
|Brazil||12 (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)||4 (2007, 2009, 2016, 2017)||2 (1993, 2001)|
|Spain||6 (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)||1 (1994)||3 (2002, 2003, 2015)|
|Germany||3 (1993, 2014, 2017)||6 (1995, 1996, 1997, 2008, 2012, 2013)||4 (1998, 2010, 2011, 2016)|
|Argentina||2 (2007, 2016)||3 (2001, 2014, 2015)||5 (2000, 2004, 2006, 2012, 2013)|
|France||1 (2001)||5 (1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004)||2 (1996, 1999)|
|Netherlands||0||2 (2010, 2011)||3 (2005, 2008, 2009)|
|Italy||0||2 (1993, 2006)||2 (1995, 2007)|
|Czech Republic||0||2 (1999, 2005)||1 (1997)|
Best Mover of the YearEdit
The Best Mover of the Year was awarded to the team who made the best progress up the rankings over the course of the year. In the FIFA rankings, this is not simply the team that has risen the most places, but a calculation is performed in order to account for the fact that it becomes progressively harder to earn more points the higher up the rankings a team is.
The calculation used is the number of points the team has at the end of the year (z) multiplied by the number of points it earned during the year (y). The team with the highest index on this calculation received the award. The table below shows the top three best movers from each year.
The award has not been an official part of the awards since 2006.
|Year||First place||Second place||Third place|
|1995||Jamaica||Trinidad and Tobago||Czech Republic|
|1997||Yugoslavia||Bosnia and Herzegovina||Iran|
|2004||China PR||Uzbekistan||Ivory Coast|
While an official award has not been made for movements since 2006, FIFA has released a list of the 'Best Movers' in the rankings since 2007.
An example of the informal on-going "Mover of the Year" award is the recognition made by FIFA to Colombia in 2012 in an official press release. However, the calculation methodology had changed to the difference in ranking points over the course of the year (rather than the methodology used in the official award from 1993 to 2006). The results for latter years are based on a similar methodology.
|Year||Best mover||Second best||Third best|
|2011||Wales||Sierra Leone||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
Rankings are published monthly, usually on a Thursday. The deadline for the matches to be considered is usually the Thursday prior to the release date, but after major tournaments, all games up to the final are included.
|Rankings schedule 2018|
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- "FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking Procedure". FIFA. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
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- "Women's World Ranking Procedure". FIFA. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
- "Great expectations". FIFA. 17 May 2006. Archived from the original on 12 June 2008. Retrieved 28 March 2008.
- Ben Rumsby (4 September 2017). "Fifa to review rankings system after friendlies harm England's World Cup seeding". The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
- Price, Steve (11 June 2018). "How FIFA's New Ranking System Will Change International Soccer". Forbes. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
- "FIFA World Ranking gets overhaul to stop manipulation for draw seedings". 11 June 2018.
- "FIFA Ranking: Netherlands dethrone Spain". Football-Rankings.info. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
- "Brazil back on top of FIFA Ranking, Netherlands slump to record low". ESPN. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- "Fifa rankings: Northern Ireland reach highest point as Germany lead the way". BBC news. 6 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
- "FIFA Organising Committee approves Final Draw procedure". FIFA. 2 December 2009. Archived from the original on 25 December 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- "Olympics – updated draw procedure, with teams". CAFOnline.com. Confederation of African Football. 12 April 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
- "POINTS BASED SYSTEM GOVERNING BODY ENDORSEMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR PLAYERS 2017/2018 SEASON" (pdf). English Football Association. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
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- "FIFA chief praises IFA's work". The Jerusalem Post. 29 August 2008. Archived from the original on 27 April 2011. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
Blatter was also asked about Israel's unrealistic FIFA ranking. Despite failing to qualify for a major tournament in 38 years, the national team is currently ranked number 16 in the world, ahead of such team as Greece, Sweden and Denmark, and just two places below England.
- "Soccer: Quirky FIFA rankings system sees Israel climb to #15". The Jerusalem Post. 13 November 2008. Archived from the original on 16 November 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
Israel continued its baffling rise up the FIFA rankings on Wednesday, climbing one more position to a best-ever 15th in the world. Amazingly, the national team, which hasn't reached a major tournament since the 1970 World Cup, is ahead of such teams as Greece (18), Nigeria (22), Sweden (29), Scotland (33), Denmark (34) and the Republic of Ireland (36)
- "The Last Word: It's time to get rid of the FIFA rankings". The Jerusalem Post. 14 November 2008. Archived from the original on 16 November 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
So the news this week that Israel has risen another place to number 15 in the latest FIFA rankings, above Mexico (25), Nigeria (22), the US (24) and Colombia (40), only serves to underline the futility of the ranking system.
- "FIFA Ranking: November 2008 preview (II)". Football-Rankings.info. 20 October 2008. Retrieved 13 February 2009.
Israel will improve (again!) their best ever ranking, climbing one place to 15th. With a win (instead of a draw) against Latvia they would have been tied for 8th place with Russia.
- Alistair Tweedale (13 October 2015). "Belgium rise to No1 in Fifa world rankings after they beat Israel – despite playing one tournament in 13 years". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
- "FIFA Rankings". Travour.com. 1 June 2006. Archived from the original on 14 June 2006.
- Cummings, Michael. "FIFA World Rankings Place Brazil 18th, Reinforce Flawed Nature of System". Retrieved 21 May 2013.
- Freitas, Paulo. "Scolari blames FIFA for Brazil's poor ranking". Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- Burnton, Simon (17 October 2013). "With a bit of planning England could have been seeded ahead of the Swiss". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
- "Romania, Wales set to be surprise World Cup top seeds". USA Today. Associated Press. 23 July 2015. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
Romania took advice from a consultant who decoded some mysteries of a ranking system used by FIFA since 1992.
- Gavril, Victor (5 July 2015). "Burleanu: "Am consultat specialiști în clasamentul FIFA." Cum a urcat România în TOP 10 mondial" [Burleanu: "We have consulted FIFA ranking specialists." How Romania climbed in the World Top 10]. România Liberă (in Romanian). Retrieved 29 July 2015.
- "2018 FIFA World Cup: Preliminary draw pots for UEFA". Football-Rankings.info. 26 June 2015. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
I've told Romanian FA officials in the spring of 2014 to avoid playing friendlies. Surprisingly, they heeded my advice.
- "Soccer rankings: farewell FIFA, hello Elo?". Retrieved 2016-07-07.
- Revision of the FIFA / Coca-Cola World Ranking
- Team of the Year Award 2010 Archived 18 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine. on the FIFA website
- Best Mover of the Year Archived 20 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine. on the FIFA website
- Spain on top and Wales highest climber on the FIFA website
- Top Team and the Best Mover of the Year on the FIFA website (PDF)
- Spain finish 2012 on top, Colombia in fifth. FIFA.com. Retrieved on 12 August 2013.
- "Spain on top, Ukraine highest climber". fifa.com. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "Germany conquer 2014, Belgium, Slovakia impress". fifa.com. 18 December 2014. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- "Belgium and Turkey claim awards, Hungary return". fifa.com. 3 December 2015. Archived from the original on 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- "Argentina and France take Ranking awards". fifa.com. 22 December 2016. Archived from the original on 22 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Men's Ranking Procedure on the FIFA website