The end of a World Cup results in changes to each team’s FIFA World Rankings, which have been criticised and ridiculed by many fans over the years because it has placed teams at the top that the average fan would not expect to be there.
FIFA uses a very elaborate system in order to generate the rankings, and the way they do it was changed in 2018 as it is constantly adapting to the different ways in which the sport is played logistically.
Here is an explanation of how FIFA calculates the men’s world rankings and where they stand after the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
What was the recent change to the calculations?
The rankings are worth more than just a number on a chart, as your place on the rankings affects draws for qualification stages and at major tournaments.
FIFA has been calculating rankings since then, and it is essentially a point-scoring system that they have in place. A big change to the model took place in 2018.
It used to be that an average number of points were earned over a certain period, and that number determined a team’s place on the board. Now, points are continuously added to the total, meaning they can move up or down the ranking.
In terms of how FIFA decides to add or subtract points, the calibre of the opponent faced in each recent game is now a key factor. Beating a team that is near the top of the rankings will be worth more points than beating San Marino or Luxembourg 9-0. The expected result is also brought into the equation.
Also, the situation of the game is now given more weight, so wins in friendly games are worth a lot less points than wins in the Euros or World Cup. This next part may look confusing, but it is the calculation that FIFA provides.
Team A has 1300 points before the match and wins a continental qualifier against team B that has 1500 points
For team A the formula is: P=1300+25*(1–(1/(10 exp (-(1300–1500)/600) +1)))
For team B the formula is: P = 1500 + 25 * (0- (1 / (10 exp (-(1500-1300)/600) + 1)))
Thus, team A wins 17 points and has P = 1317 points after the match
Team B loses the same amount of points and thus ends up with 1483 points after the match
The points system is marginally easier to understand. This is how FIFA ranks the games in terms of importance, and the result is combined with the expected result to determine what percentage of the below points should be awarded.
5—Friendlies played outside of the International Match Calendar.
10 — friendly matches played during the International Match Calendar windows
15 – UEFA Nations League matches (group stage)
25 – UEFA Nations League matches (playoffs and finals), Confederations’ final competitions qualifiers, FIFA World Cup qualifiers
35 – Confederations’ final competitions matches (before quarter-finals)
40 – Confederations’ final competitions matches (quarter-finals and later)
50 – FIFA World Cup matches (before quarter-finals)
60 – FIFA World Cup matches (quarter-finals, semi-finals, third place play-off and final)
Who is at the top of the FIFA rankings now?
The FIFA rankings were adjusted for the sixth time in 2022 on December 22 to account for the World Cup that ended on December 18 with Argentina beating France on penalties in the final.
Brazil entered the tournament at the top of the rankings, but a team at the top of the rankings has never won the World Cup. Despite going out in the quarterfinals, they have remained at the top following the World Cup, but they have lost 0.53 points.
Argentina was the big gainer, earning 64.5 points to move up to second in the rankings, just behind Brazil. Belgium dropped from second to fourth as they were knocked out in the group stage and lost 35.41 points.
The team with the biggest point gain in the top 50 was Morocco, whose journey to the semi-final saw them gain 108.85 points and move up to 11. Croatia also climbed to seventh and is now ahead of Spain, Portugal, and Italy.
England gained 45.72 points and remains in fifth place. You can see the ranking in full here.