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# The furore over FIFA rankings

By Patrick Omorodion

During the week, FIFA released its monthly rankings for November and put Nigeria at the 36th position, a three step drop from 33rd last month. Nigerian football fans yelled and called FIFA all sorts of names, condemning the ranking entirely.

Their cry is understa-ndable considering the rise from grass to grace of the Super Eagles since they shocked themselves and the entire world with the January Africa Nations Cup victory in South Africa. They have also gone ahead to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the first time they are doing so without too much stress and the usual permuta-tion by their die-hard fans.  After listening to many radio programmes in Lagos with the fans holding divergent views on the issue, some very ridiculous, it was clear that many of them were arguing from points of ignorance. Even the explanation by Nigerian CAF and FIFA committee member, Paul Bassey didn’t assuage their anger.

Unknown to most Nigerians, points are not awarded like it is done in league matches across the world, that is three points for a win, one for a draw and nothing for a loss. They believe that after winning the Nations Cup and winning most of their World Cup qualifiers, Nigeria should have climbed above Cote d’Ivoire to occupy the top position in Africa.

For the benefit of those who don’t surf the internet or who have never visited the FIFA site, I have downloaded the ranking procedure below from fifa.com for them to know how FIFA arrives at the monthly ranking and therefore not biased against Nigeria as most of them think.

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:

UEFA/CONMEBOL  1.00   CONCACAF 0.88

AFC/CAF  0.86                OFC   0.85

After going through this, I believe the doubting Thomases amongst us would now know how it is done and that Nigeria gets what she truly deserves. Nigeria was once voted the 5th best country in the world when the Super Eagles dazzled all at the 1994 World Cup in the USA. Then nobody doubted the ranking procedure nor called FIFA names.Let’s pray  the Eagles shine always.

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