Stop, look, listen Sepp; your rankings are laughable

by Alex Byers

 

Sepp Blatter, do you really think Greece are better than Brazil?

Fifa have once again embarrassed themselves this week with their latest publication of their world rankings, oddly placing England in 3rd, whilst Brazil languish in 13th behind 12th placed Greece.

The rankings are as reliable as a Mugabe election victory and a waste of web space, the time has well and truly come to revamp a shoddy system that so clearly creates inaccurate results.

Firstly, the rankings should not take into account the last four years of results, four years is a very long time in football and to truly provide an accurate representation of which teams are currently the best we should take into account their most current performances, not four years, but the last two years at the most, if you think that’s not enough, please read on.

Results obviously need to be taken into account when creating the rankings, after all, the main purpose of football matches is to win, style is subjective and so is the standard of players, one experts quality midfielder can be another experts over-rated mercenary.

Yet there is also room for a subjective view and that is how, in my opinion, we can create a more educated rankings table that relies less on crunching numbers and affords some attention to knowledge of the game.

Whilst a lose theory, my idea is simple, instead of a ranking system based 100% solely on maths, they should create a panel of respected recently retired players, out of work managers and current respected chief scouts, of varying ages and varying nationalities, charged with the task of adding subjectivity to the rankings.

Their task is relatively simple, rate each team in the current top fifty by taking into account the ability of its players in relation to others in the world and the teams actual performance in matches to produce a team rating, this could form 30% of the overall score, with the other 70% recognising results and standard of opposition as done in the existing system used by Fifa.

This would recognise that Brazil are better than Greece and whilst it wouldn’t guarantee an accurate table it would help guide the rankings into a more precise form. The game’s governing body should pick the brains of those with Football understanding who have their finger on the pulse, after all, can the rankings really get much more useless?

Football is of course about opinions as well as statistics and no one rankings table will ever be approved by everybody, there is no one way to win a football match, no one style in which to manage a team and no one way of evaluating how good a player or a team is.

Despite that, football is not just about mathematics and a world rankings system should provide scope for opinion on who is good and who is not, the opinions of the Dennis Bergkamps and Graham Carrs of this world surely have some value when deciding whether one International team is better than another.

In a summer when gymnasts and divers have been rated by a trusted panel of experts to determine their performance and place in an actual competition that they’ve worked towards for four years, surely Football can afford room to listen to the opinion of a panel of experts (who know more than Sepp Blatter and his calculator) to create a table that barely has an impact on who wins and who loses in the end.

Football is not all about statistics, it’s also about opinion, and whilst subjectivity from experts forms part of rankings for universities and gold medals are awarded as a result of opinion from judges, Fifa could do a lot worse than garner the view of those who are qualified, but then again, when has Sepp Blatter ever cared to listen?

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