Fifa to stamp out ranking anomaly after qualifiers

LONDON • Fifa is poised to bring in changes to its ranking system once the qualification matches for next year's World Cup are completed, after complaints that some countries are exploiting a loophole.

According to The Times, the ranking system works against countries such as England, who play a large number of friendly internationals.

It rewards those who play hardly any matches out of competition, which explains why Poland and Switzerland are ranked in the world top 10 but Spain and France, as well as England, are below them.

Concerns have been raised with Fifa by Uefa and national associations and the world governing body is now expected to bring in changes.

It remains unclear whether these will affect the ranking system used to decide the seeds for the draw for the 2018 World Cup Finals, which takes place in Moscow on Dec 1.

A spokesman said: "Fifa is reviewing the Fifa Coca-Cola world ranking system and will take a decision after the completion of qualification for the 2018 Fifa World Cup, if any changes are to be made to improve the ranking."

GET IT RIGHT

It's ridiculous that Italy and Spain are forced to 'eliminate' each other for a World Cup spot.

CARLO TAVECCHIO, Italian Football Federation president, is unhappy with the ranking system that put his country in the same qualifying group as Spain. He said the system should take into account a country's World Cup history.

If England had not played any friendlies in the past 12 months they would be ranked sixth instead of 13th. England's habit of playing high-profile opponents, such as Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy, and generally failing to beat them, has counted against the Three Lions.

  • FIFA RANKINGS

  • 1 Brazil

    2 Germany

    3 Argentina

    4 Switzerland

    5 Poland

    6 Portugal

    7 Chile

    8 Colombia

    9 Belgium

    10 France

    11 Spain

    12 Italy

    13 England

    14 Mexico

    15 Peru

    16 Croatia

    17 Uruguay

    18 Wales

    19 Sweden

    20 Iceland

One website has suggested that England have a 0.01 per cent chance of being seeded for the World Cup in Russia.

The advantage has been known in football circles for some time and has been exploited by Wales in the past, and the Football Association has had to weigh up the benefits of the income from playing prestigious friendlies, as well as the valuable experience for the players.

One FA figure said the need for England to play against some of the world's top teams before big tournaments was a key factor.

Fifa has based World Cup seeding on its rankings since 2010. Before then, it had been based on performances at the previous two World Cups and the ranking over the previous three years.

The Italian Football Federation has called for a change in the ranking system that put the country in the same qualifying group as Spain, who inflicted a 3-0 defeat on them at the Bernabeu on Saturday.

Carlo Tavecchio, its president, said that the ranking system should take into account a country's World Cup history.

"It's ridiculous that Italy and Spain are forced to 'eliminate' each other for a World Cup spot," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Fifa to stamp out ranking anomaly after qualifiers'. Print Edition | Subscribe