The world association football (soccer) rankings are compiled by FIFA using a computer and a set of rules. They are based on the matches played by almost every country in the world. World Cup matches (finals and qualifiers), friendly internationals and continental championships are included.

The criteria used in determining the number of points to be awarded for a particular match are (in descending order of importance)-

  1. Whether the result was a win,draw or loss.
  2. Number of goals scored and conceded.
  3. Whether the match was played at home or away.
  4. The importance of the match.
  5. The relative strength of the opponent.

Matches over an eight year period are included (though older matches are of less significance).

At the time of writing France is ranked number one and the Carribean island of Montserrat holds the table up at two hundred and third. Germany, Italy and Brazil have previously held the top spot. The rankings have been compiled since 1993.

These rankings don't carry much (any?) weight, but make for interesting discussion amongst fans of different countries.

An example of this is that at the time of this writeup, the United States is 15th, while England is 14th. Is the United States really on a par with England? Or better than Russia (18th) or Ukraine (40th)? I would say not (and I'm an American...).

The May 16, 2001 rankings are significant in that France overtook Brazil as #1. Brazil had held #1 since 1994. While Brazil has been in decline for years and hardly anyone considers them to be among the top few teams in the world anymore (in fact, they're currently 4th in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying, meaning they're 4th in South America), they were still #1 in this questionable computer ranking system.

The rankings are also a further sign of the commercialization of sport. The official name of the rankings is "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking".

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