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Varun Kumar Mukhia/Khel Now

Explainer: How the new FIFA rankings system works

Written by: Sabin Castelino

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The algorithm that governs football's global rankings has just been re-worked with a new system in place. 

It has been a few days since FIFA’s new ranking system came out and despite being revolutionary, it has left us with more questions than answers. Since before the FIFA World Cup earlier this year, the mysterious ranking system has been one of the talking points for football-lovers all over the world and now, it has come into reality with full effect.

We at Khel Now look at the new system, how it has affected the rankings and what it means for India and the world.

A Shift In World Rankings



The first thing that you must have realized is that the rankings of India and many others whom you ardently follow have undergone an overhaul. France, the current world champions are at the top of the pecking order with a massive gain of 150 points, as they beat higher ranked teams on their way to World Cup glory.

Teams like Egypt, who had a nightmarish World Cup dropped by 77 points and came down 20 places, making them the biggest movers in the downward direction. Team India stood to gain however, as they moved up one place to 96, as most of the countries surrounding the Blue Tigers did not play competitive or friendly football, which proved to be a blessing.

The Indian team have gained a spot which puts them in 96th place in the world ranking

New Formula

If you have belonged to the geekdom of football or worked as a statistician then you must surely know the super complicated averaging system that was earlier used in football, which discouraged teams from playing a huge number of games and also helped certain countries rise up, albeit by defeating lower ranked teams.

But fear no more, for here comes mathematics to the rescue. If you apply the current formula using the point guideline provided by FIFA, you can easily calculate the points your team has gained and thus know the rank of your team instantaneously.

This eliminates the month-long wait for the new ranking order as each match hence played will take your team up or down the ladder of the rankings.

Check out the new formula guidelines here.

How The Formula Affects Who Plays Whom?

If you want more points, you play stronger opponents. That is the bottom line of the new ranking system and it basically means that the days of certain FA's manipulating the rankings are over.

The points system assumes that the higher ranked teams are going to win against their lower ranked opponents unless, you are playing in the knockout round of a competition.


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This basically means that, if let’s say, number 1 ranked, France were to be defeated by 96th ranked India, France would drop a ton of points and India would gain the same amount to skyrocket up the rankings.

Although, this does discourage higher ranked teams from playing lower ranked ones, it also means that when you face a higher ranked opponent, there is a chance that you will be bouncing up the scale and showing off your new rank, if you win.

What Does It Mean For India?

It means one simple thing; stop playing meaningless friendlies in order to create a false sense of hope or you are going to slide down the ranking tree faster than you could control.

The new system guarantees that they will be kicked around a certain range once all teams start playing friendlies and competitions in the FIFA sanctioned dates.

To see the new ELO based ranks of all teams, click here.

Published: Thu Aug 23, 2018 10:38 PM IST

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