FIFA has ranked India at 100 in the latest ranking, but there is nothing to gloat about as this is not a true reflection of quality and class.
The Indian men’s football team has made some news by being ranked at 100 in the latest rankings released by the Federation Internationale de Football Association.
This is being touted as the best in the last 21 years and all and sundry are going gaga over it.
Actually, India is at 103 as Nicaragua and Lithuania are above it as they are fractionally superior in terms of points awarded. Nicaragua (331.47), Lithuania (331.38), India (331.33) and Estonia (331.12) are jointly ranked at No 100. India’s best rank was at 94 in February 1996.
India has not done anything spectacular in recent months to justify a higher rank. It has recorded wins in friendlies over Cambodia and Myanmar recently. The Indian team has secured 11 wins in the last 13 matches, including an unofficial match against Bhutan, and most of them have been South Asian opponents.
African nation Malawi dropped from 100 to 114 losing 14 points as they lost to lesser ranked nations like Madagascar in the 2018 African Nations Championship qualification, both by solitary goals.
Oman, North Korea (116), Equitorial Guinea, Rwanda, Suriname, Iraq (120), Botswana also dropped points to be pushed back.
Imagine North Korea are at 116, Iraq at 120 and Malaysia at 158. Can the Indian team be expected to defeat any of them in the near future? The answer is an emphatic no. It’s a game and anything can happen. Chile can beat Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. But that is simply not going to be the case with the Indian team.
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The ranking formula itself is not indicative of any nation’s real prowess. Nations in Europe and South America are given higher points. Thus playing a low number of matches, but of high stakes, helps.
Consequently, teams are not any superior only because they are ranked higher. It is not a true reflection of their class and quality. Teams which are not active are pushed backwards and teams which are a little more active benefit.
Even at face value, North Korea, Iraq, Malaysia cannot be inferior to India.
HOW THE FIFA RANKING WORKS?
According to the FIFA website, the basic logic of these calculations is simple: any team that does well in world football wins points which enable it to climb the world ranking.
A team’s total number of points over a four-year period is determined by adding:
The average number of points gained from matches during the past 12 months; and the average number of points gained from matches older than 12 months (depreciates yearly).
Calculation of points for a single match
The number of points that can be won in a match depends on the following factors:
Was the match won or drawn? (M)
How important was the match (ranging from a friendly match to a FIFA World Cup match)? (I)How strong was the opposing team in terms of ranking position and the confederation to which they belong? (T and C)
These factors are brought together in the following formula to ascertain the total number of points (P):
P = M x I x T x C
The following criteria apply to the calculation of points:
M: Points for match result
Teams gain 3 points for a victory, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a defeat. In a penalty shoot-out, the winning team gains 2 points and the losing team gains 1 point.
I: Importance of match
Friendly match (including small competitions): I = 1.0
FIFA World Cup qualifier or confederation-level qualifier: I = 2.5
Confederation-level final competition or FIFA Confederations Cup: I = 3.0
FIFA World Cup final competition: I = 4.0
T: Strength of opposing team
The strength of the opponents is based on the formula: 200 – the ranking position of the opponents. As an exception to this formula, the team at the top of the ranking is always assigned the value 200 and the teams ranked 150th and below are assigned a minimum value of 50. The ranking position is taken from the opponents’ ranking in the most recently published FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
C: Strength of confederation
When calculating matches between teams from different confederations, the mean value of the confederations to which the two competing teams belong is used. The strength of a confederation is calculated on the basis of the number of victories by that confederation at the last three FIFA World Cup competitions. Their values are as follows:
(The example given is taken from the official FIFA website)
Thus, rejoicing at India being joint 100 on the FIFA list is entirely uncalled for.
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