FIFA Rankings Produce More Head-Scratching Results in Latest Release

Frank Wagner@Fw1812Correspondent IJune 8, 2013

GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 26:  Igor Budan of Croatia is tackled by James McEveley of Scotland during the Tennent's International Challenge friendly match between Scotland and Croatia at Hampden Park on March 26, 2008 in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Stu Forster/Getty Images

In the latest world rankings released by football's world governing body, FIFA, the positioning of many of the best national teams is quite befuddling.

Unfortunately, that's not quite a surprise given the source.

While the idea of a world ranking system is quite interesting given the sporadic nature of the international football format, these FIFA rankings have consistently produced some, to put it lightly, strange results.

The latest results, which were unveiled Thursday, are no exception.

The head-scratching starts near the top with Croatia's ranking at No. 4 in the world.

Now, there is no doubt that the Croatians have a very talented side that, on its day, can compete with virtually any team in the world.

However, the success the team has enjoyed has not matched this potential, what with their failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and elimination in the group phase of Euro 2012.

There are certainly some mitigating factors for these results. After all, Croatia was very competitive in its Euro 2012 group, yet were unlucky that it contained both finalists in Spain and Italy.

While these should keep the Croatians' ranking quite high, it is ludicrous that they are four spots ahead of Italy, a team that qualified for the 2010 World Cup, got to the finals of Euro 2012 and are actually leading their 2014 World Cup qualifying group.

Croatia deserves a high spot, maybe even in the Top 10, but certainly not four just yet.

On the flip side, Brazil comes in shockingly low at No. 22.

This is by no means a vintage Brazilian side, but the South American giants look very undervalued in that spot.

The drop is yet another in a long line for the Green and Yellow, as it seems as though they are being unfairly penalized for not needing to go through qualification.

Many others must agree with this assessment, as Brazil is the odds-on favorite to win the World Cup next summer.

While I wouldn't go that far, a spot in the Top 10 is not asking too much.

As for the rest of the list, a common theme seems to arise: a gross overvaluing of form.

Yes, one wants to see some importance given to the more recent results, but some homage must be given to sustained success.

Look at Colombia and Ecuador, two South American teams ranked at seventh and 10th, respectively.

Over the past year or so, these two have been formidable sides that, on form, could challenge almost anyone.

However, these good results represent just a small sample size, and one in which they have achieved just (probable) World Cup qualification after missing out on the 2010 tournament.

One should certainly expect Colombia and Ecuador to continue their ascent and to be around for some time to come, but these rankings are just too high for them right now.

A more extreme case of the rankings overcompensating for form is the Central African Republic, who sits in 59th place.

The African nation reached its highest-ever ranking, 49th, last October after shockingly eliminating Egypt from qualification for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and taking a first-leg lead on Burkina Faso.

Since then, though, the Central African Republic has lost every match it's played and been eliminated from both Cup of Nations qualifying and World Cup qualifying.

While their victories over Egypt should have given them a boost, the Africans went up way too far too quickly.

Meanwhile, a team like Japan, which got to the knockout rounds of the 2010 World Cup, won the Asian Cup and breezed to 2014 World Cup qualifying faster than any other nation, has seen its ranking drop to 32nd just because of one or two months of poor results.

Again, some amount of value must be put on sustained success for these rankings to make any sense.

It's a real shame that these rankings look to be so flawed.

After all, they serve an important purpose in the international game and are a cool idea.

However, if one is looking for any semblance of logic in where these national teams stand, they might want to avoid the FIFA rankings.

, creator of the Wagner World Rankings


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