FIFA unveils fresh approach to international rankings

FIFA has outlined plans to increase the legitimacy of its World rankings system, with the introduction of a revamped points formula that will dictate where international teams are placed.

The new system, which was approved by a FIFA Council meeting last Sunday, was described by FIFA President Gianni Infantino as a “hopefully more fair” approach to ranking international teams, specifically as it looks to eliminate, a factor known as ranking “manipulation”.

The current ranking system, which was established 12 years ago, has long been the subject of widespread criticism as many believe it allows nations to either take part in straightforward friendlies against poorly ranked sides, or to only sparingly appear in friendlies as they look to boost their ranking and ensure a strong seeding for upcoming tournaments.

However, after a two year consultation FIFA has revealed that it‘s looking to eradicate the opportunity for strategic friendlies, with the introduction of the Elo system, which was originally formed for the ranking of chess players.

With the implementation of the Elo system, competitive games will continue to be of greater value when it comes to ranking then friendlies, however unlike the current system, Elo ranking isn’t based on averages, meaning regular friendlies aren’t detrimental when it comes to ranking.

Commenting on the new system, Infantino stated: “It gives, I think, some more weight to official matches and so on but also takes away some of these imbalances we had before, I hope it will be a little less subject to criticism.”

The first set of rankings that the newly introduced Elo system has an impact on will be released after the much anticipated, upcoming Russian World Cup, which concludes in Moscow on 15 July 2018.

The plans come as part of a revamp of international football, with UEFA outlining its ambition to eliminate meaningless friendlies with the introduction the Nations League, which kicks off in September.

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