Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New FIFA World Rankings: No Christmas in July

Ho? Ho-Ho
The new FIFA world rankings are out. It's like Christmas morning when is I see FUBAR's, er, FIFA's list of the top national men's teams in the world. I mean, FIFA is such a credible, honest organization that when it speaks, I listen.

Much like the NCAA here in the United States, bringing order to the world's top national sides provides great value for hardcore and casual football fans alike. For example, who knew Spain would be No. 1? I mean, really, what have they done for us lately, aside from winning Euro, the World Cup and curbstomping the United States 4-0? Sure there was that messy 4-0 friendly loss to Portugal, but friendlies don't count -- or do they?

Apparently, the logic and mathematics behind these rankings are more convoluted than the Bowl Championship Series rankings in college football. Details, details -- back to the rankings.

No. 2 is the Netherlands, so we're holding fast to the most recent World Cup finish. Fair enough since the Orange have backed that up with six straight wins in Euro qualifying. Let's say it now: Spain-Holland in the Euro 2012 final? OK.

Three through five is where it starts to get interesting. Here we have Germany, Brazil and Uruguay. Hmm. Seems Brazil actually climbed one spot, despite nose-diving out of Copa America, its continental championship, that was won by, yes, Uruguay. Granted, Uruguay hopped up 13 spots from last month's rankings. I guess 14 is out of the question according to FIFA's brand of "new math."

Let's let the frivolity continue with six through 10: England, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Argentina. I dare anyone outside of Buenos Aries to argue with a straight face that Argentina is a top 10 team right now. Go ahead, I'll wait. They can't pick a decent manager, much less a solid starting 11 that defends and scores. Wow. And England? At No. 6? This is the same England that has 11 points from five Euro qualifiers in a monster group with Montenegro and Wales still hanging around? Hmm. Croatia too? These guys with the C' thing at the end of their names cannot shake Israel in their group, never mind catch Greece at the top. Italy and Portugal probably should be higher on this list on reputation alone. That seems to be the criteria for Brazil at the moment.

Hop-skip-and-jumping around: Mexico is at 20, behind Montenegro, Japan and Ivory Coast. I need an explainer there. Chile (11), Peru (25) and Paraguay (26) had big leaps off Copa America, yet still languish behind Norway and Australia among others.

The point is that there is no point for these rankings. They're non-starters as far as discussion starters go. They subjective in some spots, objective in many others. The math behind it is incomprehensible, and worse yet, these things are actually used to seed nations in major tournaments.

Put a face behind these things. Make it a plain-English discussion and rank these teams according to what your eyes tell you, not what is subjectively entered into a computer application's form field. And if you're not willing to do that FIFA, then for God's sake stop using them for anything that matters. Like the rest of your corrupt organization, they're a bad running joke.

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