In my August 2012 preview, posted on 20 July 2012, there was a list of games removed from FIFA's list of "A" matches. Among them, a 0 - 0 draw between Hungary and the Republic of Ireland, played on 4 June 2012.
Last week I received an e-mail from Irish reader who wanted to know about the impact this removal would have on Ireland's FIFA ranking. Apparently, a reporter from the Irish Daily Star discovered two months later that this friendly had disappeared from FIFA.com.
Enjoy these fine pieces of journalism, well documented of course, about the FIFA ranking and the seeding for the FIFA World Cup final tournament.
From the Irish Times:
"The upshot is that Fifa has not recognised the game for the purposes of its world ranking calculations. Ireland are currently 26th on the list but would be comfortably inside the top 20 if the team had received the rough 160 ranking points it should have received for the draw achieved in the Hungarian capital.
The list has a good deal of prestige attached to it but there can be some significant practical value too with rankings occasionally of some importance when friendly internationals are being negotiated and, most significantly, when draws for Fifa-organised competitions are being made.
Ahead of the finals tournament in South Africa in 2010 the seedings were based on the world rankings and in the event that Ireland was to qualify from what is a tough looking group, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the points lost because of the error could result in the team slipping from one pot to another."
From the Evening Herald:
"But a bigger issue is now occupying the minds of the FAI after it was revealed that the 150 ranking points available for drawing with Hungary in Budapest could lift Ireland into the world’s top 20, with obvious positive consequences when it comes to competition seeding."
First of all, points are not added up, but averaged. If that Hungary friendly would be included in the ranking calculation, the Republic of Ireland would have had 750 points in September, instead of 768 - a loss of 18 points.
Also, FIFA only seed the first 7 teams + host, with the remaining 24 teams being split into pots on geographical criteria. While the Republic of Ireland are a solid team, the top 7 of the FIFA ranking is a bit out of reach.