Friday, September 28, 2012

The Irish press and FIFA ranking

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

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.

About me:

Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. Hi Edgar. Fifa ranking has now become the primary rule to rate national teams, and removing games that alter the ranking without explaining good reasons for this will make a lot of noise at a year from the WC 2014 seeding.

    As an african, I can easily understand that removing the game between CIV and MLI several months after being used in the ranking is a way to prevent Cote d'Ivoire from reaching the top 10 and being possibly seeded for WC 2014 if they win the African Cup of Nations in 2013. Games to be removed from the Fifa international A games should be decided on just a short time after the game is being played.

    Fifa also needs to be more involved in friendlies. I don't understand how two national teams can play two games in 2 or 3 days. This is full of doubt as arrangement for both teams can be made.

  2. I second your opinion that as the FIFA-ranking becomes more and more important as a seeding mechanism FIFA should be much more open about their rules for inclusion of matches and reasons for removing a match from the calculations.

    That said, the removal of the CIV-MLI friendly actually results in a higher points-total for CIV, so removing this match is a bad way to prevent CIV from reaching the top-10.

  3. Ivory Coast or Algeria if they won the Africa Cup and participated in the Confederations Cup will be on of the best 7 teams and thus will be in the first level

    This is a bad thing for FIFA

    1. I don't know if FIFA does or does not want an african team in the first pot at a World Cup draw.

      My point is that when you suggest that FIFA manipulates the fixture-list in order to accomplish their desired situation, you should use the correct arguments, not this easy to refute accusation.

  4. Why FIFA will be deleted Algeria points win against United Arab Emirates in the next order?

    Match took place in June 2010

    The natural thing is that the arrangement takes into account all the matches during the last 4 years

    1. The match against UAE is still on

  5. Actually I think most teams benefit from friendly matches being removed.. If more UEFA teams follow and use non-fifa referees then they'll just gain in the rankings rather than the opposite :)