FIFA(english)

Fédération Internationale de Football Association
Motto For the Game. For the World.
Formation 21 May 1904
Type Federation of national associations
Headquarters Zürich, Switzerland
Membership 208 national associations
Official languages English, French, German, Spanish,[1]
President Sepp Blatter
Website www.fifa.com

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (English: International Federation of Association Football), commonly known as FIFA (usual English pronunciation: /ˈfiːfə/), is the international governing body of association football. Its headquarters are located in Zürich, Switzerland, and its current president is Sepp Blatter. FIFA is responsible for the organisation and governance of football’s major international tournaments, most notably the FIFA World Cup, held since 1930.

FIFA has 208 member associations, three more than the International Olympic Committee and five fewer than the International Association of Athletics Federations.

History

The need for a single body to oversee the game became apparent at the beginning of the 20th century with the increasing popularity of international fixtures. FIFA was founded in Paris on 21 May 1904; the French name and acronym remain, even outside French-speaking countries. The founding members were the national associations of Belgium, Denmark, France, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Also, that same day, the German Association declared its intention of affiliating through a telegram.

The first president of FIFA was Robert Guérin. Guérin was replaced in 1906 by Daniel Burley Woolfall from England, by now a member association. The next tournament staged, the football competition for the 1908 Olympics in London was more successful, despite the presence of professional footballers, contrary to the founding principles of FIFA.

Membership of FIFA expanded beyond Europe with the application of South Africa in 1908, Argentina and Chile in 1912, and Canada and the United States in 1913.

During World War I, with many players sent off to war and the possibility of travel for international fixtures severely limited, there were few international fixtures, and the organisation’s survival was in doubt. Post-war, following the death of Woolfall, the organisation was run by Dutchman Carl Hirschmann. It was saved from extinction, but at the cost of the withdrawal of the Home Nations (of the United Kingdom), who cited an unwillingness to participate in international competitions with their recent World War enemies. The Home Nations later resumed their membership.

The FIFA collection is held by the National Football Museum in England.

Structure

Map of the World with the six confederations.

FIFA is an association established under the Laws of Switzerland. Its headquarters are in Zürich.

FIFA’s supreme body is the FIFA Congress, an assembly made up of representatives from each affiliated member association. The Congress assembles in ordinary session once every year and, additionally, extraordinary sessions have been held once a year since 1998. Only the Congress can pass changes to FIFA’s statutes.

Congress elects the President of FIFA, its General Secretary and the other members of FIFA’s Executive Committee. The President and General Secretary are the main officeholders of FIFA, and are in charge of its daily administration, carried out by the General Secretariat, with its staff of approximately 280 members.

FIFA’s Executive Committee, chaired by the President, is the main decision-making body of the organisation in the intervals of Congress. FIFA’s worldwide organisational structure also consists of several other bodies, under authority of the Executive Committee or created by Congress as standing committees. Among those bodies are the Finance Committee, the Disciplinary Committee, the Referees Committee, etc.

Aside from its worldwide institutions (presidency, Executive Committee, Congress, etc.) there are six confederations recognised by FIFA which oversee the game in the different continents and regions of the world. National associations, and not the continental confederations, are members of FIFA. The continental confederations are provided for in FIFA’s statutes. National associations must claim membership to both FIFA and the confederation in which their nation is geographically resident for their teams to qualify for entry to FIFA’s competitions (with a few geographic exceptions listed below):

AFC – Asian Football Confederation in Asia and Australia
CAF – Confédération Africaine de Football in Africa
CONCACAF – Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football in North America and Central America
CONMEBOL – Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol in South America
OFC – Oceania Football Confederation in Oceania
UEFA – Union of European Football Associations in Europe.

Nations straddling the traditional boundary between Europe and Asia have generally had their choice of confederation. As a result, a number of transcontinental nations including Russia, Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have chosen to become part of UEFA despite the bulk of their land area being in Asia. Israel, although lying entirely within Asia, joined UEFA in 1994, after decades of its football teams being boycotted by many AFC countries. Kazakhstan moved from the AFC to UEFA in 2002. Australia was the latest to move from the OFC to AFC in January 2006.

Guyana and Suriname have always been CONCACAF members despite being South American countries.

In total, FIFA recognises 208 national associations and their associated men’s national teams as well as 129 women’s national teams; see the list of national football teams and their respective country codes. Curiously, FIFA has more member states than the United Nations, as FIFA recognises several non-sovereign entities as distinct nations, such as the four Home Nations within the United Kingdom or politically disputed territories such as Palestine[2]. The FIFA World Rankings are updated monthly and rank each team based on their performance in international competitions, qualifiers, and friendly matches. There is also a world ranking for women’s football, updated four times a year.

Recognitions and awards

FIFA awards, each year, the title of FIFA World Player of the Year to the top men’s and women’s players of the year, as part of its annual awards ceremony which also recognises team and international football achievements.

In 1994 FIFA published the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team.

In 2002 FIFA announced the FIFA Dream Team, an all-time all-star team chosen by fans in a poll.

As part of its centennial celebrations in 2004, FIFA organised a “Match of the Century” between France and Brazil

Governance and game development

Laws of the Game

The laws that govern football, known officially as the Laws of the Game, are not solely the responsibility of FIFA; they are maintained by a body called the International Football Association Board (IFAB). FIFA has members on its board (four representatives); the other four are provided by the football associations of the United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, who jointly established IFAB in 1882 and are recognised for the creation and history of the game. Changes to the Laws of the Game must be agreed by at least six of the eight delegates.

Discipline of national associations

FIFA frequently takes active roles in the running of the sport and developing the game around the world. One of its sanctions is to suspend teams and associated members from international competition when a government interferes in the running of FIFA’s associate member organisations or if the associate is not functioning properly.

A 2007 FIFA ruling that a player can be registered with a maximum of three clubs, and appear in official matches for a maximum of two, in a year measured from July 1 to June 30 has led to controversy, especially in those countries whose seasons cross that date barrier, as in the case of two former Ireland internationals. As a direct result of this controversy, FIFA modified this ruling the following year to accommodate transfers between leagues with out-of-phase seasons.

FIFA Anthem

Main article: FIFA Anthem

Since the 1994 FIFA World Cup, like the UEFA Champions League, FIFA has adopted an anthem composed by the German composer Franz Lambert. The FIFA Anthem is played at the beginning of official FIFA sanctioned matches and tournaments such as international friendlies, the FIFA World Cup, FIFA Women’s World Cup, FIFA U-20 World Cup, FIFA U-17 World Cup, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup, FIFA Futsal World Cup, FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup.[3]

Criticism

Allegations of financial irregularities

In May 2006 British investigative reporter Andrew Jennings‘ book Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote-Rigging and Ticket Scandals (Harper Collins) caused controversy within the football world by detailing an alleged international cash-for-contracts scandal following the collapse of FIFA’s marketing partner ISL, and revealed how some football officials have been urged to secretly repay the sweeteners they received. The book also alleged that vote-rigging had occurred in the fight for Sepp Blatter’s continued control of FIFA.

Shortly after the release of Foul! a BBC television exposé by Jennings and BBC producer Roger Corke for the BBC news programme Panorama was broadcast. In this hour-long programme, screened on June 11, 2006, Jennings and the Panorama team agree that Sepp Blatter was being investigated by Swiss police over his role in a secret deal to repay more than £1m worth of bribes pocketed by football officials.

All testimonies offered in the Panorama expose were provided through a disguised voice, appearance, or both, save one; Mel Brennan, formerly a lecturer at Towson University in the United States (and from 2001–2003 Head of Special Projects for CONCACAF, a liaison to the e-FIFA project and a FIFA World Cup delegate), became the first high-level football insider to go public with substantial allegations of greed, corruption, nonfeasance and malfeasance by CONCACAF and FIFA leadership. During the Panorama exposé, Brennan—the highest-level African-American in the history of world football governance—Jennings and many others exposed allegedly inappropriate allocations of money at CONCACAF, and drew connections between ostensible CONCACAF criminality and similar behaviours at FIFA. Brennan’s book, The Apprentice: Tragicomic Times Among the Men Running—and Ruining—World Football is due out in 2010.

Video replay

FIFA does not permit video evidence during matches, although it is permitted for subsequent disciplinary sanctions.[4] The 1970 meeting of the International Football Association Board “agreed to request the television authorities to refrain from any slow-motion play-back which reflected, or might reflect, adversely on any decision of the referee”.[5] In 2008, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said: “Let it be as it is and let’s leave [football] with errors. The television companies will have the right to say [the referee] was right or wrong, but still the referee makes the decision — a man, not a machine.”[6]

It has been said that instant replay is needed given the difficulty of tracking the activities of 22 players on such a large field,[7] and it has been proposed that instant replay be used in penalty incidents, fouls which lead to bookings or red cards and whether the ball has crossed the goal line, since those events are more likely than others to be game changing.[8]

Critics also point out that instant replay is already in use in other sports, including rugby union, cricket, American football, Canadian football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and ice hockey.[9][10][11][12][13] As one notable proponent of video replay, Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz has been quoted as saying that the “credibility of the game” is at stake.[14]

FIFA structured tournaments

Men’s Tournaments

Women’s Tournaments

Sponsors

The following are the sponsors of FIFA (named “FIFA Partners”):

FIFA World Rankings

Top 25 Rankings as of 26 May 2010[1]
Rank Team Points Confederation
1 Brazil 1611 CONMEBOL
2 Spain 1565 UEFA
3 Portugal 1249 UEFA
4 Netherlands 1231 UEFA
5 Italy 1184 UEFA
6 Germany 1082 UEFA
7 Argentina 1076 CONMEBOL
8 England 1068 UEFA
9 France 1044 UEFA
10 Croatia 1041 UEFA
11 Russia 1015 UEFA
12 Egypt 967 CAF
13 Greece 964 UEFA
14 United States 957 CONCACAF
15 Serbia 947 UEFA
16 Uruguay 899 CONMEBOL
17 Mexico 895 CONCACAF
18 Chile 888 CONMEBOL
19 Cameroon 887 CAF
20 Australia 886 AFC
21 Nigeria 883 CAF
22 Norway 882 UEFA
23 Ukraine 875 UEFA
24 Switzerland 866 UEFA
25 Slovenia 860 UEFA

The FIFA World Rankings is a ranking system for men’s national teams in association football, currently led by Brazil. The teams of the member nations of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), 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 1992, and six teams (Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) have held the top position, of which Brazil have spent longest ranked first.

A point system is used, with points being awarded based on the results of FIFA-recognised international matches. Under the existing system, rankings are based on a team’s performance over the last four years, with more recent results and more significant matches being more heavily weighted to help reflect the current competitive state of a team. The ranking system was most recently revamped after the 2006 World Cup, with the first edition of the new series of rankings issued on 12 July 2006. The most significant change is that the rankings are now based on results over the previous four years instead of the previous eight years. The change is perceived to respond to criticisms that the rankings do not effectively reflect the relative strengths of the national teams. (See section Criticism).

Alternative systems have been devised, such as the World Football Elo Ratings, based on the Elo rating system used in chess and Go, ranking teams on an all time basis. The Unofficial Football World Championships ranks teams on the number of times they have defended the Unofficial Football World Championship, an award devised solely for that purpose.

History

FIFA World Ranking Leaders

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, with sponsorship from Coca-Cola, this list was more frequently updated, to be published most months.[2] Significant changes were implemented in 1999 and again in 2006, as a reaction to criticisms of the system.[3] Membership of FIFA has expanded from 167 to 208 since the rankings began, but one member, São Tomé and Príncipe, is not included in the rankings as they have not played a recognised international fixture for more than four years.

1999 update

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. In order to meet the objective of fairly and accurately comparing the relative strengths of various national sides, the system was updated. 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 ranking system update

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 is now used to determine rankings.[4] Goals scored and home or away advantage are no longer taken into account, and other aspects of the calculations, including the importance attributed to different types of match, have been revised. The first set of revised rankings and the calculation methodology were announced on 12 July 2006.

This change is 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.

Rank leaders

When the system was introduced, Germany debuted 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 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.

Uses of the rankings

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”.[2] 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 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.

Criticism

Since their introduction in 1992, the FIFA World Rankings have been the matter 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,[5] and the United States reached fourth in 2006, to the surprise of even their own players.[6] However, criticism regarding the unrealistic ranking continued even after the introduction of the new formula, with Israel’s climb to 15th in November 2008 raising a few eyebrows even in the Israeli press,[7][8][9] with Israel missing a huge opportunity to break in the top 10 after conceding a last gasp equaliser against Latvia.[10]

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.[11][5] This criticism has lessened somewhat with the introduction of a new formula, reflecting results over a four year period, introduced in July 2006.

The perceived flaws in the FIFA system have led to the creation of a number of alternative rankings from football statisticians[5] including the World Football Elo Ratings and the rec.sport.soccer Statistics Foundation rankings.

Current calculation method

After the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a revised calculation procedure for the FIFA rankings was introduced; it is a significantly simplified procedure. The new rankings were compiled in response to criticism from the media.[2] Meetings were attended by FIFA staff and external experts and a large amount of research was conducted by this group, resulting in the new ranking system.[2] The new system was confirmed in Leipzig on 7 December 2005 by a committee of FIFA executives. Notable changes include the dropping of the home or away advantage and number of goals from the calculation, and the simplification of many aspects of the system.

The system, like the previous ones, is extremely similar to that of a league, though with changes made to ensure that it is still representative of the teams’ performance despite playing differing numbers of matches per annum, and the differing strength of opposition that teams have to face. The factors taken into account are as follows:

  • Match result
  • Match status
  • Opposition strength
  • Regional strength

Teams’ actual scores are a result of the average points gained over each calendar year; matches from the previous four years are considered, with more weight being given to recent ones.

Win, draw or defeat

In previous years a complicated system of points allocation was used, depending on how strong the opponent was, and how large the loss margin, which allowed weaker losing teams to gain points when playing a much stronger opposition, if they managed to put up a decent match. With the new system, the points allocation is simpler: three points for a win, one point for a draw, and zero points for a loss, in line with most league systems around the world.

In the event of a match being decided by a penalty shootout, the winning team receives two points, and the losing team one point.

Result Points
Win (no penalty shootout) 3
Win (penalty shootout) 2
Draw 1
Loss (penalty shootout) 1
Loss (no penalty shootout) 0

In two-legged play-offs, if Team A loses the first leg 2 – 0, then matches the result in the return leg and wins after a penalty shootout, it will receive two points. However, if Team A wins by one goal only, being eliminated in the process, it will receive 3 points.[12]

Match status

Different matches have different importance to teams, and FIFA has tried to respect this by using a weighting system, where the most significant matches are in the World Cup finals,[13] and the lowest weighted are friendly matches. FIFA states that it wishes to recognise that friendlies are still important, since they make up half of the competitive matches counted in the rankings.[14] FIFA also stated, however, that it did not plan to make any adjustment for teams that qualify directly for major tournaments.[15][16]

The match status multipliers are as follows:

Match status Multiplier
Friendly match x 1.0
FIFA World Cup and Continental cup qualifiers x 2.5
Continental cup and Confederations Cup finals x 3.0
World Cup finals match x 4.0

Opponent strength

Obviously, a win against a very highly ranked opponent is a considerably greater achievement than a win against a low-rated opponent, so the strength of the opposing team is a factor.

The new system uses an opposition strength factor based on team rankings. The previous system was based on points difference.

The formula used is:

Opposition\ strength\ multiplier\ = \frac{200-ranking\ position}{100}

with the exceptions that the team ranked #1 is given a multiplier of 2.00, and teams ranked 150th and below are assigned the minimum multiplier of 0.50.

  • Example 1: the opposition team is currently ranked 8th in the world:

\frac{200-8}{100}=1.92

so the opposition strength multiplier is 1.92
  • Example 2: the opposition team is currently ranked 125th in the world:

\frac{200-125}{100}=0.75

so the opposition strength multiplier is 0.75
  • Example 3: the opposition team is currently ranked 188th in the world:

Below 150th, so the opposition strength multiplier is the minimum 0.50

The ranking position is taken from the opposition’s ranking in the most recently published FIFA World Ranking before the match is included in the ranking calculation.[17]

The rankings published before July 2006 are purely historical and are not used for the new ranking calculation. Instead, FIFA went back as far as 1996 to apply the new formula and is using those new rankings for the current calculations.[18]

See the detailed break-down of point totals for teams from the top 20 in the October 2007 rankings.[19]

Regional strength

In addition to the opposition strength multiplier, FIFA considers the relative strength of entire confederations in the calculation. Each confederation is assigned a weighting between 0.85 and 1.0, based on the relative performance of the confederations in the last three World Cups. Their values are as follows:[20]

Confederation After 2006 World Cup Up to and including 2006 World Cup
UEFA (Europe) 1.00 1.00
CONMEBOL (South America) 0.98 0.99
CONCACAF (North and Central America and Caribbean) 0.85 0.88
AFC (Asia) 0.85 0.85
CAF (Africa) 0.85 0.85
OFC (Oceania) 0.85 0.85

The multiplier used in the calculation is the average of the regional strength weighting of the two teams:

Regional\ strength\ multiplier\ = \frac{Team\ \mathit{1}\ regional\ weighting\ +\ Team\ \mathit{2}\ regional\ weighting}{2}

Assessment period

Matches played over the last four years (48 months) are included in the calculation, but there is a weighting to put more emphasis on recent results. Previously an eight year period was used. The date weighting is as follows:

Date of match Multiplier
Within the last 12 months x 1.0
12–24 months ago x 0.5
24–36 months ago x 0.3
36–48 months ago x 0.2

São Tomé and Príncipe were eliminated from the rankings list in December 2007 having exceeded four years without playing a match.

Ranking formula

The final ranking points figure for a single match is multiplied by 100 and rounded to the nearest whole number.

Ranking\ points\ =\ 100(Result\ points\ \times\ Match\ status\ \times\ Opposition\ strength\ \times\ Regional\ strength)

Results for all matches played in the year are averaged together (assuming at least five matches have been played). The average ranking points for the four previous years, weighted by their multiplier mentioned above, are added together to arrive at the final ranking points.

Examples

The following examples use these hypothetical teams and confederations, and assume the games are played within the last 12 months:

  • Amplistan is currently ranked 2nd in the world and is a member of confederation XYZ (weighting 1.0);
  • Bestrudia is currently ranked 188th in the world and is a member of confederation ABC (weighting 0.88);
  • Conesto is currently ranked 39th in the world and is a member of confederation QRS (weighting 0.98);
  • Delphiz is currently ranked 30th in the world and is a member of confederation HIJ (weighting 0.94).

A friendly match is played between Amplistan and Bestrudia. Amplistan wins 2–1.

Match Team Result points Match status Opposition strength Regional strength Ranking points
Amplistan vs. Bestrudia (friendly)
Result: 2–1
Amplistan
Bestrudia
3
0
1.0
1.0
0.50
1.98
0.94
0.94
141
0

Bestrudia gets no ranking points because it lost the game, so all factors are multiplied by zero.

Amplistan’s 141 ranking points are calculated like this:

  • 3 points for the win;
  • multiplied by 1.0 for match status (friendly match);
  • multiplied by 0.50 for opposition strength (Bestrudia is ranked 188th, so it has the minimum 0.50 weighting);
  • multiplied by 0.94 for regional strength (the average of the weightings for the two teams’ confederations);
  • multiplied by 100.

More examples:

Match Team Result points Match status Opposition strength Regional strength Ranking points
Amplistan vs. Bestrudia (friendly)
Result: 1–2
Amplistan
Bestrudia
0
3
1.0
1.0
0.50
1.98
0.94
0.94
0
558
Amplistan vs. Bestrudia (friendly)
Result: 1–1
Amplistan
Bestrudia
1
1
1.0
1.0
0.50
1.98
0.94
0.94
47
186
Amplistan vs. Bestrudia (World Cup finals)
Result: 2–1
Amplistan
Bestrudia
3
0
4.0
4.0
0.50
1.98
0.94
0.94
564
0
Amplistan vs. Bestrudia (World Cup finals)
Result: 1–1 (Bestrudia wins on penalties)
Amplistan
Bestrudia
1
2
4.0
4.0
0.50
1.98
0.94
0.94
188
1488
Amplistan vs. Conesto (friendly)
Result: 1–2
Amplistan
Conesto
0
3
1.0
1.0
1.61
1.98
0.99
0.99
0
588
Conesto vs. Delphiz (Continental cup qualifiers)
Result: 4–0
Conesto
Delphiz
3
0
2.5
2.5
1.70
1.61
0.96
0.96
1224
0
Conesto vs. Delphiz (Continental cup qualifiers)
Result: 0–1
Conesto
Delphiz
0
3
2.5
2.5
1.70
1.61
0.96
0.96
0
1159
Conesto vs. Amplistan (World Cup finals)
Result: 0–0 (Amplistan wins on penalties)
Conesto
Amplistan
1
2
4.0
4.0
1.98
1.61
0.99
0.99
784
1275

Conesto gets more points than Bestrudia for defeating the same team (Amplistan) because of the higher weighting of its confederation.

1999–2006 calculation method

In 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.[21]

1993–1999 calculation method

The ranking formula used from 1993–1999 was very simplistic and quickly became noticed for its lack of supporting factors. Teams received 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw.

Awards

Each year FIFA hands out two awards to its member nations, based on their performance in the rankings. They are;

Team of the Year

Team of the Year is awarded to the team whose best seven matches of the year received the greatest number of points overall. The table below shows the three best teams of each year.[22]

Year First place Second place Third place
1993 Germany Italy Brazil
1994 Brazil Spain Sweden
1995 Brazil Germany Italy
1996 Brazil Germany France
1997 Brazil Germany Czech Republic
1998 Brazil France Germany
1999 Brazil Czech Republic France
2000 Netherlands Honduras Italy
2001 Honduras Colombia Costa Rica
2002 Brazil France Spain
2003 Brazil France Spain
2004 Brazil France Argentina
2005 Brazil Czech Republic Netherlands
2006 Brazil Italy Argentina
2007 Argentina Brazil Italy
2008 Spain Germany Netherlands
2009 Spain Brazil Netherlands

Best Mover of the Year

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.[2] 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.[23]

The award has not been an official part of the awards since 2006.

Year First place Second place Third place
1993 Colombia Portugal Morocco
1994 Croatia Brazil Uzbekistan
1995 Jamaica Trinidad and Tobago Czech Republic
1996 South Africa Paraguay Canada
1997 Yugoslavia Bosnia and Herzegovina Iran
1998 Croatia France Argentina
1999 Slovenia Cuba Uzbekistan
2000 Nigeria Honduras Cameroon
2001 Costa Rica Australia Honduras
2002 Senegal Wales Brazil
2003 Bahrain Oman Turkmenistan
2004 China PR Uzbekistan Côte d’Ivoire
2005 Ghana Ethiopia Switzerland
2006 Italy Germany France

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[24]. 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
2007 Mozambique Norway New Caledonia
2008 Spain Montenegro Russia
2009 Brazil Algeria Slovenia

Ranking schedule

Rankings are published monthly, usually on a Wednesday. 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.[25] No rankings are released in June or early July due to the 2010 World Cup taking place.

Rankings Schedule 2010
Month Release Date
January 3 February†
February 3 March†
March 31 March
April 28 April
May 26 May
July 14 July
August 11 August
September 15 September
October 20 October
November 17 November
December 15 December

†: The rankings based on games played before the end of January and February were released the following month.

World Football Elo Ratings

The World Football Elo Ratings (Elo is often pronounced E-L-O despite not being an initialism) is a ranking system for men’s national teams in football. The method used to rank teams is based upon the Elo rating system method but modified to take various football-specific variables into account. Elo should not be confused with the FIFA World Rankings, which is more prevalent because it is the rating system used by the international governing body of football to rank men’s national teams.

The ratings take into account all international “A” matches for which results could be found. Ratings tend to converge on a team’s true strength relative to its competitors after about 30 matches[1]. Ratings for teams with fewer than 30 matches should be considered provisional.

The FIFA Women’s World Rankings uses a simplified version of the Elo formula. The FIFA men’s ranking, however, uses a non-Elo formula.

Top 60 ranking

Current table, as of 7 July 2010, of the World Football Elo rankings, compiled by the World Football Elo Ratings web site as of 5 July 2010 and updated according to formula.

Each national team’s FIFA World Ranking as of 26 May 2010.[2]

Elo Rank Nation Points Confederation FIFA Rank
1 Spain 2111 UEFA 2
2 Netherlands 2100 UEFA 4
3 Brazil 2072 CONMEBOL 1
4 Germany 2018 UEFA 6
5 Argentina 1940 CONMEBOL 7
6 England 1890 UEFA 8
7 Uruguay 1880 CONMEBOL 16
8 Croatia 1866 UEFA 10
9 Portugal 1859 UEFA 3
10 Chile 1858 CONMEBOL 18
11 Mexico 1840 CONCACAF 17
12 Egypt 1827 CAF 12
13 Italy 1824 UEFA 5
14 Russia 1818 UEFA 11
15 Serbia 1781 UEFA 15
16 Ukraine 1780 UEFA 23
17 Turkey 1774 UEFA 29
18 Sweden 1770 UEFA 37
19 Australia 1767 AFC 20
20 Ghana 1760 CAF 32
Paraguay 1760 CONMEBOL 31
22 Côte d’Ivoire 1758 CAF 27
23 Switzerland 1757 UEFA 24
24 France 1752 UEFA 9
25 United States 1749 CONCACAF 14
26 Japan 1746 AFC 45
27 Republic of Ireland 1743 UEFA 41
28 Korea Republic 1728 AFC 47
29 Colombia 1724 CONMEBOL 35
30 Norway 1723 UEFA 22
Elo Rank Nation Points Confederation FIFA Rank
31 Czech Republic 1722 UEFA 33
32 Romania 1720 UEFA 28
33 Venezuela 1704 CONMEBOL 49
34 Denmark 1699 UEFA 36
35 Israel 1695 UEFA 26
Bulgaria 1695 UEFA 39
37 Ecuador 1694 CONMEBOL 44
38 Greece 1685 UEFA 13
39 Honduras 1677 CONCACAF 38
Costa Rica 1677 CONCACAF 40
Saudi Arabia 1677 AFC 66
42 Slovenia 1672 UEFA 25
43 Nigeria 1666 CAF 21
44 Iran 1659 AFC 61
45 Scotland 1651 UEFA 43
46 Poland 1649 UEFA 58
47 Slovakia 1648 UEFA 34
48 China PR 1635 AFC 84
49 Cameroon 1625 CAF 19
50 Finland 1624 UEFA 52
51 Bosnia and Herzegovina 1615 UEFA 51
52 South Africa 1603 CAF 83
53 Jamaica 1592 CONCACAF 81
54 New Zealand 1586 OFC 78
55 Canada 1584 CONCACAF 63
56 Macedonia 1580 UEFA 61
Oman 1580 AFC 91
58 Montenegro 1578 UEFA 64
59 Tunisia 1576 CAF 55
60 Hungary 1573 UEFA 57
Bolivia 1573 CONMEBOL 65

Top 10 since 1970

The following is a list of the national teams with the highest average Elo score from January 1, 1970 to July 1, 2010. See Strongest football nations by Elo Ratings for a top 50 and for tables of the Strongest teams per decade since 1910.

Rank Country Average Elo rating
1 Brazil 2008.1
2 Germany[3] 1970.3
3 Italy 1929.1
4 England 1923.5
5 Netherlands 1915.5
6 Argentina 1897.4
7 Spain 1891.3
8 France 1887.8
9 Russia[4] 1856.2
10 Czech Republic[5] 1842.8

List of number one teams

The following is the list of nations who have achieved the number one position on the World Football Elo Ratings in the last five years:

Start Date Nation # of days
June 29, 2005 Brazil 102
October 9, 2005 Netherlands 3
October 12, 2005 Brazil 265
July 4, 2006 Italy 43
August 16, 2006 France 52
October 7, 2006 Brazil 122
February 6, 2007 France 1
February 7, 2007 Brazil 140
June 27, 2007 France 14
July 11, 2007 Argentina 4
July 15, 2007 Brazil 334
June 13, 2008 Brazil / Netherlands 2
June 15, 2008 Netherlands 6
June 21, 2008 Spain 368
June 24, 2009 Brazil 373
July 2, 2010 Netherlands 1
July 3, 2010 Netherlands / Spain 3
July 6, 2010 Netherlands 1
July 7, 2010 Spain

Ranking by days as leader since January 1, 2000

Nation # of days Last Date as Leader
Brazil 1878 1 July 2010
France 1115 10 July 2007
Spain 375 [6] Current
Argentina 316 14 July 2007
Netherlands 109 6 July 2010
Italy 43 15 August 2006
Czech Republic 8 7 June 2005

All-time highest ratings

The following is a list of national football teams ranked by their highest Elo score ever reached.

Rank Nation Points Date
1 Hungary 2166 30 June 1954
2 Brazil 2153 17 June 1962
3 Argentina 2117 3 April 1957
4 Spain 2111 7 July 2010
5 France 2106 15 August 2001
6 Netherlands 2100 6 July 2010
7 Germany 2099 4 September 1974 (as West Germany)
8 Italy 2079 20 July 1939
9 Poland 2046 1 September 1974
10 England 2041 22 October 1966
11 Uruguay 2035 13 June 1928
12 Russia 2023 9 October 1983 (as Soviet Union)
13 Czech Republic 1999 27 June 2004
14 Austria 1998 31 May 1934
15 Portugal 1983 15 November 2000
16 Croatia 1967 11 July 1998
17 Serbia 1962 25 June 1998 (as FR Yugoslavia)
18 Denmark 1960 13 June 1986
19 Scotland 1953 10 March 1888
20 Sweden 1950 25 June 1950
21 Mexico 1936 19 June 2005
22 Paraguay 1932 21 February 1954
23 Belgium 1916 9 September 1981
24 Norway 1914 13 June 2000
=25 Colombia 1911 20 February 1994 & 5 June 1994
=25 Romania 1911 9 June 1990

History

This system, developed by Hungarian-American mathematician Dr. Árpád Élő, is used by FIDE, the international chess federation, to rate chess players, and by the European Go Federation, to rate Go players. In 1997 Bob Runyan adapted the Elo rating system to international football and posted the results on the Internet. He was also the first maintainer of the World Football Elo Ratings web site.

Overview

The Elo system was adapted for football by adding a weighting for the kind of match, an adjustment for the home team advantage, and an adjustment for goal difference in the match result.

The factors taken into consideration when calculating a team’s new rating are:

  • The team’s old rating
  • The considered weight of the tournament
  • The goal difference of the match
  • The result of the match
  • The expected result of the match

The different weights of competitions in descending order are:

  • World Cup Finals
  • Continental championships finals and Intercontinental tournaments
  • World Cup and Continental championship qualifiers
  • All other tournaments
  • Friendly matches

The single difference is Elo giving a special treatment for minor tournaments, while FIFA consider them as friendly matches.

These ratings take into account all international “A” matches for which results could be found. Ratings tend to converge on a team’s true strength relative to its competitors after about 30 matches. Ratings for teams with fewer than 30 matches should be considered provisional. Match data are primarily from International Football 1872 – Present web site.

Basic calculation principles

The basic principle behind the Elo ratings is only in its simplest form similar to that of a league, unlike the FIFA tables who effectively run their table as a normal league table, but with weightings to take into account the other factors, the Elo system has its one formula which takes into account the factors mentioned above. There is no first step as in the FIFA system where a team immediately receives points for the result, there is just one calculation in the Elo system.

The ratings are based on the following formulae:

Rn = Ro + KG(WWe)

or

P = KG(WWe)

Where;

Rn = The new team rating
Ro = The old team rating
K = Weight index regarding the tournament of the match
G = A number from the index of goal differences
W = The result of the match
We = The expected result
P = Points Change

Status of match

The status of the match is incorporated by the use of a weight constant. The weight is a constant regarding the “weight” or importance of a match, defined by which tournament the match is in, they are as follows;

Tournament or Match type Index (K)
World Cup Finals 60
Continental Championship and Intercontinental Tournaments 50
World Cup and Continental qualifiers and major tournaments 40
All other tournaments 30
Friendly Matches 20

Number of goals

The number of goals is taken into account by use of a goal difference index. G is increased by half if a game is won by two goals, and if the game is won by three or more goals by a number decided through the appropriate calculation shown below;

If the game is won by one goal

G = 1

If the game is won by two goals

G = \frac{3}{2}

If the game is won by three or more goals

  • Where N is the goal difference
G = \frac{11+N}{8}

Table of examples:

Goal Difference Coefficient of K (G)
0 1
+1 1
+2 1.5
+3 1.75
+4 1.875
+5 2
+6 2.125
+7 2.25
+8 2.375
+9 2.5
+10 2.625

Result of match

W is the result of the game (1 for a win, 0.5 for a draw, and 0 for a loss).

Expected result of match

We is the expected result (win expectancy with a draw counting as 0.5) from the following formula:

W_e = \frac{1}{10^{-dr/400} + 1}

where dr equals the difference in ratings plus 100 points for a team playing at home. So dr of 0 gives 0.5, of 120 gives 0.666 to the higher ranked team and 0.334 to the lower, and of 800 gives 0.99 to the higher ranked team and 0.01 to the lower.

Examples

The same examples have been used on the FIFA World Rankings for a fair comparison. Some actual examples should help to make the methods of calculation clear. In this instance it is assumed that three teams of different strengths are involved in a small friendly tournament on neutral territory.

Before the tournament the three teams have the following point totals.

Team Points
A 630
B 500
C 480

Thus, team A is by some distance the highest ranked of the three: The following table shows the points allocations based on three possible outcomes of the match between the strongest team A, and the somewhat weaker team B:

Example 1

Team A versus Team B (Team A stronger than Team B)

Team A Team B Team A Team B Team A Team B
Score 3 : 1 1 : 3 2 : 2
K 20 20 20 20 20 20
G 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1 1
W 1 0 0 1 0.5 0.5
We 0.679 0.321 0.679 0.321 0.679 0.321
Total (P) +9.63 -9.63 -20.37 +20.37 -3.58 +3.58

Example 2

Team B versus Team C (both teams approximately the same strength)

When the difference in strength between the two teams is less, so also will be the difference in points allocation. The following table illustrates how the points would be divided following the same results as above, but with two roughly equally ranked teams, B and C, being involved:

Team B Team C Team B Team C Team B Team C
Score 3 : 1 1 : 3 2 : 2
K 20 20 20 20 20 20
G 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 1 1
W 1 0 0 1 0.5 0.5
We 0.529 0.471 0.529 0.471 0.529 0.471
Total (P) +14.13 -14.13 -15.87 +15.87 -0.58 +0.58

Note that Team B loses more ranking points by losing to Team C than by losing to Team A.

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