Back in 1995, I decided to create my own
retrospective world rankings. My idea was to make them straightforward,
so not based on complex mathematical algorithms or coefficients. It was
similar to a squash ladder. To progress up the rankings you had to beat
a team that was above you. Simple as that. The only real indication that
one team is better than another. Forget earning points beating lesser
teams in meaningless friendlies, or accumulating lots of points in
qualifiers and then flopping when it comes to the major tournaments. As
long as you've earned the right to be ranked within a few places of a
team, and you then beat them, you take their place.
This is not the same as the Unofficial World
Championship, where anybody can take a shot at the number one and win
with a 'lucky punch'. The teams are in groups of four, so that only
those in the same group and those in the group below can challenge a
team above them.
Hopefully, this eliminates the possibilities of
the likes of Angola, Georgia and Zimbabwe becoming number one (as they
were in the Unofficial Championship) and Norway, USA, Cape Verde Islands
and England rising to unnatural levels, or indeed, Brazil slipping to
twenty-second (as they had been in the FIFA Rankings), purely because they were not playing in any qualifiers for two
The basic rule is that the top-eight rankings
are reset every time that there is a World Cup, because a World Cup
should surely rewrite any rankings that went before it. It's the only
way to prove that you are, actually, the best.
I've created groups of four teams, because four
is a small enough number to restrict teams from rising too quickly
(though they always have the World Cup option every four years to
establish a higher ranking), but large enough to allow for a choice of
opponents to play and beat. Some lower groups end up with more, or less,
than four teams. This is caused by varying numbers of teams dropping out
of the top placings after a disappointing World Cup.
Teams that have been
eliminated from the World Cup cannot challenge any of the World Cup
qualifiers from the top two
groups (as they are already destined to remain outside of the top eight)
until the tournament has been completed.
One drawback may be that you have to have
reached, at least, the last eight of the World Cup, to appear in these
rankings, but I seriously doubt that there is much relevance to the FIFA
rankings beyond the top fifty. If a team hardly ever competes
against teams from other confederations, how can you realistically
Anyway, follow the links
above to see how these rules were reflected in world rankings, beginning with
1966, because it marks a point where football was about to become more
of a global game (and also to see England start at the top!).