FIFA to review rankings system after issues highlighted

Matt Stead

FIFA has admitted it will review its ranking system after the qualifying tournaments for 2018 World Cup are finished.

The system, which is based on each nation’s results over a four-year rolling period, is used by world football’s governing body to decide the seedings at World Cups.

Football powerhouse Brazil currently top the rankings, with defending champions Germany second and Argentina third, but Switzerland and Poland occupy the next two slots.

The top seven qualifying nations, plus hosts Russia, will be seeded in December’s draw for the 2018 tournament.

While both Switzerland and Poland have enjoyed successful qualifying campaigns, they have also played relatively few friendlies in recent seasons, particularly Switzerland.

A report in The Times on Monday outlined how the rankings work against teams that play lots of friendlies, particularly if they lose them, as is always a risk if you play games against tough opponents.

England, for example, who are currently 13th in the rankings, have played friendlies over the last year against Spain, Germany and France, drawing once and losing twice.

Manager Gareth Southgate has also recently made it clear he believes England should play the world’s best sides in friendlies in order to better prepare his players for summer tournaments.

The Football Association is also keen for England to play leading nations to raise more money, which it then invests in the game. As a result, it has lined up Germany and Brazil for pre-World Cup friendlies, should England secure qualification.

In a short statement, a FIFA spokesperson said: “FIFA is reviewing the FIFA Coca-Cola World Ranking system and will take a decision after the completion of qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup if any changes are be made to improve the ranking.”

Wales are the next best British ranked men’s side, in 18th, down from a post-Euro 2016 high of 12th, while Northern Ireland are 23rd and Scotland 58th.

The England women’s team, on the other hand, are up to a record high of third.