Friday, August 04, 2006

FIFA World Ranking : History

The FIFA World Rankings were introduced in August 1993 to make it possible to publish comparisons of the relative strengths of internationally active teams at regular intervals.

The rankings obtained are, unsurprisingly, the subject of considerable debate. They are based on performances over an eight year period, which means that teams with consistent good performances are highly ranked, but on the other hand the rankings are fairly slow to respond significantly to changes in form. A number of alternative systems have been devised, such as the World Football ELO Ratings, based on the Elo rating system used in chess. The UFWC (Unofficial Football World Championships) ranks teams on an all-time basis.

In August 1993 FIFA introduced a ranking system for senior national teams after calls for a system that gives a fair comparison of the relative strengths of national teams. This system has been used by FIFA ever since, and has had some major changes to the calculation principles in its short history, with the biggest change being implemented in 1999, in order to compete with the Elo ratings which were considered a more accurate depiction of the teams' rankings. However, this reviewed system is still considered inferior to the Elo Ratings. [citation needed]

The following is an overview of the system used to calculate the rankings.

The FIFA World Ranking is a ranking of all of the senior national teams of all FIFA member associations, and all international matches are counted in the scoring, however depending on their importance, are differently weighted. Also separate rankings are used for junior teams or other representative national sides (such as the women's national team) are not included in the calculation, and mostly there are separate rankings for these, for example the FIFA Women's World Rankings.

When the calculations are made the following factors are taken into consideration:

World Cup finals matches
World Cup preliminary matches
FIFA Confederations Cup matches
Continental championships final matches
Continental championship preliminary matches
Friendly matches
The rankings are produced by a computer program which follows specific criteria on assigning the teams points. The calculations are clearly defined and taken into consideration there are specific factors, they are as follows:

Winning, drawing and losing
Number of goals
Home or away match
Importance of the match (multiplication factor)
Regional strength (multiplication factor)
Note: The system does not take into account margin of victory or loss

Each year the seven best results for each team are the only results given full weighting and progressively less weighting is given to past results year by year until after eight years they are dropped completely. Through this system of diminishing value of past results, the rankings are designed to give a more accurate depiction of current form, than past results.

At the end of each season two awards are given;

Team of the Year goes to the team that scores the overall highest average number of points during the year over the seven matches of the year which are given full weighting.
Best Mover of the year Is awarded to the team which is deemed to have made the best progress in the rankings, over the course of the previous year. However, this is not simply the team which has risen the most places, taken into account is the fact that it becomes progressively harder to score points the higher in the rankings a team is.

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