Fear and loathing in the FIFA rankings

Manchester City, Arsenal
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

FIFA announced their latest rankings and once again they demonstrate a hopelessly confusing system that doesn’t really jive with logic.

How does it work?

Beating a team earns you points. The amount is based on opponent rank in comparison to your nation, and whether that win was part of a major competition. So far, it is logical.

It’s only when you look at the table and results when you start to question the system.

Argentina is number one, Belgium is number two.

Belgium was horrible at Euro 2016 and have never even been close to winning something in my lifetime (36 years). At best they have reached the quarter-finals, so how do they lead nations like Portugal, Brazil or Chile who have won competitions this year?

Argentina is more deserving than Belgium, they came close to winning the Copa America this year and won Olympic Gold in 2008. They have a consistency which warrants a high ranking but looking at results and performances in 2016, they shouldn’t be 300 points ahead of Germany.

Germany won World Cup 2014. They came third place in the last two European Championships but only take FIFA’s third spot. Germany has consistently been winning in 2016 and challenging at tournaments.

Let us dig a little deeper into these FIFA’s rankings.

Argentina played 16 games during the 2015/2016 season. They earned nine wins including six games in the Copa America (three wins).

Over the same period, Portugal also played 16 games. They earned 10 wins including 6 games in the European Championship (three wins). The difference, Portugal won the final and are now European Champions.

So why is it that Portugal is seventh in the rankings, 420 points behind Argentina? They are even 100 points behind Belgium who got knocked out in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 by Wales, who are tenth in the rankings.

Is that 420 point difference based on the fact Argentina has played more top ten ranked teams in the 2015/2016 season?

If so, it shows a complete bias against Oceanic, African, and Asian nations.

You can only play who you are up against and as qualification and international tournaments are mostly against teams on the same continent if FIFA rank mostly South American teams how can others climb higher without playing said South American teams?

It is illogical. Throw in the fact that host nations don’t earn points because they don’t have to qualify and the question has to be – who are these rankings for?

So heed this FIFA, if you want rankings to mean something replace them with a league table style system which every fan can understand and follow. Thanks.