FIFA has announced that it will make changes to the way that the world rankings of international teams are calculated.
The new method will add or subtracts points from a country’s total rather than averaging them over a multi-year period as it has been done
It should ensure that countries are less able to attain false rankings by winning a string of less important games or difficult games, as has long been an accusation held against FIFA’s system.
FIFA notes that the new Elo method has been used in other sports for a number of years and is even involved in calculating the women’s world rankings, with a specific version (SUM) developed especially to take into account FIFA’s considerations.
FIFA explains: “Teams gain and lose points based on their performance. The number of points gained or lost is a function of the relative strength of the opponents. Thus a weak team beating a strong team gains more points than a strong team beating a weak team. It is a fair and logical concept.”
As well as the relative strength of both teams involved, less importance will be given to friendly games when determining the rankings, while more will be given to the major tournaments. Knockout stage matches will also carry more weight than group stage games.
FIFA have also explained that teams from all over the world will now have an ‘equal chance’ of rising the rankings after the old weighting variables that favored European and South American nations has been removed.
Host nations, who do not play qualifiers, will additionally not see their ranking as badly affected as before as winning friendly matches will still add to their points tally, even if only slightly. Under the old method Russia slid down the rankings after the Confederations Cup, which had been their only competitive football since 2016 and are now the lowest ranked country at their own World Cup.