Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Better Late Than Never

It seems FIFA has finally gotten around to fixing their rankings. They have changed their rankings to include games played over the past four years instead of over the past eight. That seems to make more sense since international teams can have a lot of turnover between World Cups. A team from eight years ago may not a single player still on the squad today. Current teams should neither be penalized or profit from games played eight years ago.

They have also given more weight to regional strength and World Cup wins. Not surprisingly the biggest loser in the new ranking system is CONCACAF, which is the North American and Caribbean region. The US and Mexico both took huge dives in the new rankings. Mexico fell from #4 (?????) to #18 and the US fell from #5 to #16. Both of those rankings seem more appropriate to the actual skill level of both teams. The new top five looks like this: Brazil, Italy, Argentina, France, England. It looked like this before the World Cup: Brazil, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Mexico, US. Now which group do you think is more representative of the best soccer teams in the world? Don't worry it's a rhetorical question.

Germany, which was ranked #19 before the tournament started, is now #9. Amazingly they were penalized because they were the host nation of the World Cup. The host nation does not have to qualify for the Cup and under the old system they were penalized for not playing World Cup qualifying matches. That seems totally asinine to me. How can you penalize a team for not playing games that they don't have to play? Bizarre. Well at least they've seen the error of their ways. CONCACAFF will continue to suffer until they start playing better competition. The US and Mexico are not going to get any better playing each other. They need to play the teams in South America if they hope to move up in the rankings again.

I have had some unkind words for the FIFA rankings during the World Cup and it's good to see that they've actually addressed the issue (my kung fu is very strong!). Now if only they'd do something about adding a ref, curbing the flopping and getting rid of shootouts in the World Cup, my victory will be complete. One more suggestion regarding the World Cup, why don't they seed the first round like the NCAA tournament. That way Brazil as the #1 seed would play the #32 team and so on. It would help to avoid the dreaded "group of death" and in my mind would make for a better tournament. Anyway, just a thought.

So I believe I've come to the end of my reports on the World Cup '06. It was fun and hopefully I'll still be here in four years to give my somewhat scattered thoughts again.



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