FIFA WORLD RANKING VEX NIGERIA FOOTBALL FANS: Now Lets Understand This Complex Calculation Method

Does it make sense to anyone?  Why Nigeria national team, despite winning most of its recent matches, keeps going down in FIFA ranking?

Truly, most Nigerian football fans are yet to understand it. For instance, looking at the performance of African national teams in the ranking, it poses different questions why Ivorian national team should be ranked 1st in Africa and 17th in the overall current ranking, having not won any major trophy in the world or Africa in recent years. Then, compare it with Nigeria’s current status.

Nigeria is currently champion of Africa and since 2013, it has won AFCON, Qualified for FIFA World cup in Brazil, Participated in Confederations Cup, Did well in grade ‘A’ friendly games against Mexico and Italy, as well won Bronze in recently concluded CHAN. Yet, the country is still ranked 41 in world and 5th in Africa (with 701 Points) behind Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Algeria, Egypt and Mali.

Let us examine how the ranking is calculated and see if it actually makes sense to Nigeria’s current ranking.

·         First, FIFA World ranking only rank Men national team, excluding the performances of Women or the junior national teams.
·         The teams of member nations of FIFA are ranked based on their game result, with the most successful teams being ranked highest.
·         Rankings are based on a national team’s performance over 4 years, with more recent result and more significant matches being heavily weighed.


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Current Calculation Method
The current calculation procedure for FIFA World ranking, which was revised and adopted since 2006, take into account the following factors: Match result, match status, Opposition strength, and Regional strength.

1.      Match Result:
·         Win (No penalty shootout)                        3 points
·         Win (Penalty shootout)                 2 points
·         Draw                                             1 point
·         Loss (Penalty shootout)                 1 point
·         Loss (No Penalty shootout)                       0 point

2.      Match Status:
FIFA World ranking take into account only International ‘A’ matches, which include:
·         Matches played as part of FIFA World Cup                      x 4.0 multiplier
·         FIFA World Cup qualifiers                                     x 2.5 
·         FIFA Confederations Cup                                      x 3.0 “
·         Continental Final such as AFCON                         x 3.0 “
·         Continental qualifiers                                           x 2.5 “
·         International Friendly                                           x 1.0 “
Note: For the purpose of the ranking, FIFA defines an International ‘A’ match as a match between two of its member teams where both field their first team.

3.      Opponent Strength:
Obviously, a win against a very highly ranked opponent give the country more points. The formula used is:
Opposition Strength multiplier = 200 – Ranking/ 100

Example, if the opposition team is current ranked 8th in the world:
200 – 8/100 =

4.      Regional Strength:
·         UEFA (Europe)                                           1.00 multiplier
·         COMMEROL (South America)                  1.00 “
·         CONCACAF (North & Central America)    0.88 “
·         AFC (Asia)                                                  0.86 “
·         CAF (Africa)                                                           0.86 “
·         OFC (Oceania)                                          0.85 “

Teams actual scores are a result of the average points gained over each Calendar year of matches from the previous 4 years. But the ranking is published every month to reflect current matches. See details of FIFA World Ranking calculation procedure at Wikipedia.

Did You Know?
Nigeria national team was ranked 4th in the FIFA World ranking in May 1994.
The highest any African team has ever been ranked.

Why Nigeria Isn’t Ranked As High
Examining the calculation method of FIFA World ranking you could deduce why Nigeria current ranking isn’t as high as fans would expect. These are some of the reasons:
·         Nigeria didn’t qualify for AFCON in 2011.
·         Nigeria played mostly weaker oppositions like Rwanda, Malawi, Namibia, Kenya… during its world cup and CHAN qualifiers.
·         Nigeria had poor performance at 2013 Confederations Cup.
·         Nigeria lost to higher ranked oppositions, Mali and Ghana, during the recently concluded CHAN.

What Does FIFA World Ranking Matter Anyway?
·         The ranking is used by FIFA to rank the progression and current ability of the national teams.
·         The ranking is part of the calculation or the entire grounds to seed teams during Draws of major competitions such as FIFA World Cup or AFCON.
·         The ranking are used to determine the winner of the two FIFA annual Awards for national teams.
·         Sport Marketers use the ranking to determine sponsorship price for national teams,
·         Sport event organizers use the ranking to determine price money for each national team involved in an International ‘A’ friendly game.

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