Saturday, September 18, 2010

FIFA rankings: September

For a time, the only thing I could be bothered to care about on this blog (before I had readers) was football, as in soccer, rankings. I realized by then that the FIFA rankings were deficient, and obsessed (as much as posting a few times per month can be considered an obsession) over alternatives. I even went so far as to think about, but never carry out, a plan to take up a hobby of reading statistics journals in order to develop the expertise necessary to formulate my own rankings system.

Needless to say, I was underemployed at the time.

I've since developed a healthier perspective regarding the FIFA rankings. They're messed up, surely (Norway is 14th in the current edition), but they do have an undeniable effect. For Canada, which will be seeded for World Cup qualifying based on their rank within CONCACAF, it is vital to remain in the top 8 regionally between now and the draw.

So Canada's jump back into the double digits, from 101 to 88, in the latest September rankings, is good news. The friendly win over Honduras helped, but it has just as much to do with the shifting weights of older results.

Here's how things stand in CONCACAF:

RankingZonal RankingTeamPts
Sep 10
+/- Ranking
Aug 10
+/- Pts
Aug 10
181USA USA8990Equal-32
282Mexico Mexico795-3Down-58
523Honduras Honduras565-6Down-62
534Costa Rica Costa Rica5610Equal-1
705Panama Panama48727Up173
766Jamaica Jamaica4256Up53
887Canada Canada36013Up73
978Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago327-21Down-91
1109El Salvador El Salvador253-24Down-107
11310Cuba Cuba2181Up3
11511Guatemala Guatemala2144Up13
12012Guyana Guyana1822Up-8

(There are 23 more countries but I doubt you'll mind me cutting it off here).

For what it's worth, here's where Canada stands in some of the other established alternative ranking systems:

ELO: 62nd (7th in CONCACAF)
Ziaian: 68th (7th)
AQB: 72nd (7th)

In each instance, the same 6 teams are ranked in front of Canada. Maybe FIFA's list isn't so bad after all.