You might have noticed (Alex certainly did) the last paragraph in the article FIFA published to announce the August ranking.
For this edition of the world ranking, the confederation weighting for the AFC has been increased from 0.85 to 0.86 backdated to August 2010, after a review of the confederation weighting calculation found that 0.86 is the correct figure. This alteration has led to only minimal changes for a few teams, and would have had no impact whatsoever on the seedings for the Preliminary Draw for Brazil 2014 on 30 July.
Now... how did that happen? Was there a moment of "Hey, let's check the confederations weightings to see if they are 100% correct?" Well, no... It's because of me being an annoying geek and because of BBC's John Sinnott.
As you can read in this post:
In March 2010 I received from FIFA's Media Office the procedure used to determine the confederation weightings. I used that procedure to compute the 2002 - 2006 and 2006 - 2010 weightings. I got the same results as FIFA. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup I tracked the confederations weightings but my results were quite different from the ones released by FIFA in August 2010. That month I wrote to FIFA, but I got no reply. I wrote to them against last week (in December 2010) and they told me:
"Thanks for your message concerning the FIFA World Ranking. We will inform the respective department."
And that was the end of it. Well, actually I wrote them again at the end of March 2011. Again, no answer.
I also asked two journalists (will mention them if I get their approval) to write to FIFA about it, but FIFA kept the silence when asked about details regarding the confederation weightings.
Then John came along in July to ask me about Wales and the Faroe Islands. Well, that was an opportunity too good to miss - finally someone that could get an answer from FIFA.
With me running the numbers and with John feeding them to FIFA, we finally discovered the mistake - although FIFA at first said AFC should be at 0.83, but the minimum values is 0.85.
Now it will be slightly easier for AFC teams to climb in the rankings - but I don't expect them to send me a "Thank you" e-mail. Although it would be nice :)
Many thanks to John - without him this wouldn't have been possible.
So now there's an answer (one answer as I wrote in the title) - FIFA have modified the formula after the 2010 FIFA World Cup to also include draws as 0.5 points. Previously only wins were included - 1 point each.
Now to the questions.
1. Why did FIFA change the formula?
Using the formula without draws, I got the same values as FIFA for the 2002 - 2006 and 2006 - 2010 weightings. However, using the formula with draws, I get the following values:
2002 - 2006
CAF: 0.87 instead of 0.85
CONCACAF: 0.92 instead of 0.88
2006 - 2010
CONCACAF: 0.86 instead of 0.85
2. Why are FIFA unwilling to admit the formula was changed?
FIFA claim the formula has never been changed, but as you can see above, it was changed.
3. Why did I have to go through John to get an answer from them? I know I'm just a blogger, but still...
4. As mentioned before FIFA outsource the calculation of the ranking to an external company. It's not the first mistake FIFA and/or the company made. If I'm able to do this better than them (and I'm only a guy with a hobby!) - why not outsource the ranking calculation to me? I'm willing to do it for half the price :)