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FIFA’s Complex World Rankings: Understanding the Equation Behind the Weirdness

As we approach the highly anticipated Euro 2024 tournament, the FIFA World Rankings have been a topic of much discussion among football enthusiasts. The equation used by FIFA to calculate these rankings can be a bit complex, often leading to some unexpected results that don’t always align with the common sense evidence we see on the pitch.

The equation used by FIFA is P = Pbefore + I * (W – We), where P represents a team’s ranking points, Pbefore is their previous ranking points, I is the importance factor of the match, W is the result achieved, and We is the expected result.

This formula takes into account factors such as the relative strength of the teams involved, the importance of the match, and whether the result was a surprise or not. For instance, if the top-ranked Argentina were to beat 210th-ranked San Marino, the impact on their ranking points would be minimal, whereas a shock defeat for Argentina would result in a significant drop in their points.

The “I” factor in the equation is a multiplier that varies based on the importance of the match, with friendly games outside of the International Match Calendar worth just 5 points, while World Cup knockout games carry the maximum of 60 points.

This complex system has led to some curious outcomes in the FIFA World Rankings, such as Belgium being ranked third, behind Argentina and France, while Croatia are ranked ninth. This can be explained by Belgium’s strong performance in World Cup and Euros qualifying games, as well as their impressive record in friendlies, which have contributed significantly to their high ranking, even though their recent performances at major tournaments haven’t been as impressive.

As we look ahead to the upcoming Euro 2024 tournament, the FIFA World Rankings will undoubtedly continue to be a topic of discussion and debate among football fans. With the complex equation behind them, it’s important to remember that these rankings don’t always tell the whole story, and the on-field performances of the teams will ultimately determine the outcome of the competition.

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