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Gus Keri

A life-long Liverpool fan who resides in New York City and also supports the New York Red Bulls.


FIFA Ranking: Is It Time For Another Revision? (Part I)

Written by on February 16, 2011 | 15 Comments »
Posted in World Cups

On February 2nd, FIFA issued its most recent ranking and again, a few countries had tumbled down significantly. The biggest fall was for one of the best African teams.

Egypt had fallen from 10th to 33rd overnight. How could this happen? It couldn’t be that their soccer standard had dropped suddenly. There must be something wrong with the ranking system and needs to be corrected.

In this 2-part article, I will propose some changes to the calculation that is being used for the ranking. But first, I will give you an example of how the points calculated to help you understand my suggestions.

I will use the most recent friendly for the USA against Chile. The game ended in a draw (1-1).

The formula to calculate each team’s points is: (P = M x I x T x C)

(M) is the standard points gained from the Match: (3 for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss)

(I) is for the Importance of the match: (1 for friendly, 2.5 for qualifier, 3 for continental finals, 4 for WC finals)

(T) is for the strength of the opposing Team: (which is where the team was ranked in the FIFA ranking immediately preceding the game)

The formula is (200 – the rank)

For USA: 200 – 15 = 185 (because Chile’s rank was 15th)

For Chile: 200 – 18 = 182 (because USA’s rank was 18th)

(C) is for the strength of the Confederation (Based on each confederation performance in the last three WCs) {1 for UEFA and CONMEBOL, 0.88 for CONCACAF, 0.86 for CAF and 0.85 for AFC and OFC}

The formula used is the average of the two confederations factors.

In this case: (1 + 0.88) / 2 = 0.94

The final calculation of the points is as such:

USA = 1 x 1 x 185 x 0.94 = 173.90 points

Chile = 1 x 1 x 182 x 0.94 = 171.08 points

My first suggestion is to remove the Confederation factor (C) completely. Its presence defeats the whole purpose of the FIFA ranking as a world wide standard to compare teams that are not from the same area of the world.

We already have the Opposing team factor (T) to account for the difference in the level between the two teams. Adding the confederation factor becomes redundant.

If you remove the confederation factor, the new calculation would be like this:

USA = 185 points

Chile = 182 points.

The second suggestion is to reinstate the home/away factor. It’s not fair for the away team to be treated equally to the home team, especially in the case of a draw.

In our example, Chile deserves more points than the USA for simply achieving a draw away from home, considering that there are not many ranks to separate the two on the ranking table.

One suggested factor could be like this:

Away team: 1.05

Home team: 0.95

Neutral ground: 1.0

So, the new formula I am suggesting is this: (P = M x I x T x L)

(L) is for the Location of the game and replaces (C) for the Confederation factor.

The points’ calculation according the new formula would be:

USA = 1 x 1 x 185 x 0.95 = 175.75 points
Chile = 1 x 1 x 182 x 1.05 = 191 points

I believe it’s more reflective of the game result than the original one which was:

(USA = 173.90 points and Chile = 171.08 points)

What do you think?

I will have more on the ranking in the second part.

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15 responses to “FIFA Ranking: Is It Time For Another Revision? (Part I)”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    You forgot to include the most importnt calculation:

    Gauge theory of gravitational interaction of macroscopic matter.

  2. Gus Keri says:


    It’s nice to know that you care.

  3. Gus Keri says:

    History will be made today.

    This is the first time ever that Dalglish will be managing Liveprool in Europe.

    It’s hard to believe.

    He played with Liverpool in Europe between 1977 and 1985.

    He managed Liverpool between 1985 and 1991 when the team was banned from European soccer.

    The irony that the ban started when he became a manager (1985) and ended when he left the club(1991).

    But this is not his first managerial job in Europe. He managed both Blackburn and Newcastle in Europe before.

    Whe people talk about unfinished business for Dalglish at Liverpool, do they mean this?

  4. Gus Keri says:

    Liverpool playing with 4-4-2 foramtion:

    Johnson, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Wilson
    Maxi, Lucas, Meireles, Aurelio
    Kuyt, Ngog

    Joe Cole is back on the bench
    The young phenom Raheem Sterling was not included in the team

  5. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    There you go again. You write an interesting article but cannot stop commenting on Liverpool. We’re back to “Gus’ LFC Chatroom” again. Just leave an open thread every day with that title Gus. We’ll know what to do. You’re starting to develop a complex mate. Best to see a specialist in the NYC area.

    Tough game in Prague today. I’m sure we will see your updates soon.


  6. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    You beat me to it. I must be psychic or something.

    Eggnog sighting?? And Johnson back to RB?? Johnson is going to get confused or think that he is a yo-yo. No?

  7. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    If what you mean by “unfinished business” for KD is being consistently competitive in the Europa League then you might really be on to something Gus and the thesis of a brilliant article.

  8. Gus Keri says:


    For someone who never misses a chance to say negative things about Liverpool and its fans, it is really puzzling to me how he keeps following their news and games.

    By the way, whenever there is game for Liverpool, the Gus LFC chatroom is open. You are welcomed to participate but with the right attitude.

  9. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    The present system seems to favour teams that play a lot of friendlies at home (like the USA). I agree that the Confederation factor (C) seems to be very redundant. And if there is one thing I detest, it is redundancy (like having two domestic cup competitions). Also agree with you wrt the H & A factor. It should be reinstated and I am surprised that there is no current allowance for it. One would think that a H & A factor is a must and a no brainer (as ‘Arry Redsnapper would say).

  10. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:


    I am a complex and multi-dimensional fellow who on occasion says something nice about LFC.

    The telecast I’m watching described LFC as opening with a 4-5-1 with Eggnog alone up front.

  11. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:


    If I were an LFC fan, I would have heart palpitations every time I see your Greek CB on the teamsheet. The way I get when I see Squillaci for AFC or Milito for FCB. Especially Squillaci.

  12. Gus Keri says:

    Regarding the formation, it’s 4-5-1 on the defensive end and 4-4-2 on the offensive end. It depends where Kuyt is playing. He plays right mid when defending and up top when attacking and this gives Johnson chance to go forward.

    Overall, the game is dominated by midfield play, as if Dalglish will be satisfied with a 0-0 tie.

  13. Gus Keri says:

    Apparently, it’s a mession accomplished for Dalglish.
    It seemed he wanted a 0-0 tie and he got it.
    It was a boring game.

  14. John Bladen says:

    Interesting article, Gus. Thanks for the detail on the calculations. I agree with the idea of eliminating the confederation coefficient. It makes no sense to correct for calibre of opponent twice – unless of course the goal is to preserve the preeminent places of the nations that are generally thought of as world powers. If they truly are, they shouldn’t need that form of protection.

    While I don’t want to make mockery of FIFA (I’m sure there are laws about that in all countries that aspire to hold any international event, ever), I’ve always thought it’s a bit of a lark that friendlies count for anything in international rankings.

    Granted, the “low level” of the friendly coefficient does water down their impact. But that said, very few of the bigger nations take friendlies seriously (especially against low ranked opponents). They are runouts, an opportunity for NT managers to give their younger players a look see. And fill the burlap sacks with “SWAG” written on them.

    The other side of this is, of course, that there are quite a number of friendlies played over the course of a WC cycle… so doesn’t a nation’s actual FIFA ranking depend nearly as much on their record in 15 friendlies as it does on 4 or 5 WC matches?

    I’d suggest increasing the coefficient of true competitive matches. The ‘friendly’ rankings really should only be used to separate smaller nations that likely won’t ever qualify for WC finals.

    In a sense, Egypt, Croatia and Russia have all been heavily penalized not for their level of play, but for the fact that they play in regions from which it is very difficult to qualify. New Zealand (bless them), DPRK and even RSA will all benefit from the opposite effect. They get to play three meaningful (and high coefficient) games not because they are better than the countries mentioned above, but simply because their opposition is weaker.

  15. Gus Keri says:


    I hope you’ve got a chance to read part II of this article. It explains the way FIFA calculates the total points.

    As a matter of fact, playing friendlies will have a negative effect on total points and even worse, playing lower ranked teams hurts the country, not help it.

    In other words, it’s better to play less friendlies and higher ranked teams.

    FIFA takes the average of points gained for every game every year.

    Let’s say, in one calender year, a team played 5 qualifiers. the points will be multiplied by (2.5). If they add one friendly that is multilied by (1), this will lead to an average that is lower than the average if they didn’t play the friendly.

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