Feb 16, 1994	FIFA Ranking, February 1994 (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Jan 26, 1996	How To Succeed Without Trying (Stig Oppedal)
Jun 26, 1996	Alternative Rankings (Karel Stokkermans)
Apr 18, 1997	European Bias in FIFA Rankings (Ariel Mazzarelli)

From: mazzarel@beirut.berkeley.edu (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Subject: Re: FIFA Ranking, February 1994 
Date: February 16, 1994

I view the FIFA rating list as a tool that helps me to analyze the current 
state of futbol national teams, via the anti-Socratic (c) method.

1) Germany (1) 58,93

I guess beating the USA and drawing with Mexico bountifully negates losing 
to Argentina. Of course they have not played an official match in 2 years, 
so any claims about the meaninglesness of friendly matches should be weighed 
against the meaningfulness of this rating list. They are world champs, though, 
so if FIFA says they're #1, I won't argue too hard.

2) Brazil (3) 58,41

This reminds me of those "WORLD TOP XI" posts that list ten guys from the 
English league and Romario.

3) Netherlands (7) 57,47

Why? They could not even beat Norway. They drew Tunisia, so they went up 
four spots?

4) Denmark (6) 56,96 5) Norway (4) 56,95 6) Spain (5) 56,78 

At the very least, FIFA could do me the kindness of switching the #4 and #6 
teams here. As for Norway, I guess that drawing Costa Rica, and losing to the
USA and Turkey does not merit a demotion from the top 5.

7) Italy (2) 56,72 

Of course, this is because during the drawing in Vegas, Blatter tried to cut 
in my dance with Miss Italia and she told him to buzz off.

8) Switzerland (12) 55,72

Muchas gracias, Mexico. They also drew the US.

9) Argentina (8) 55,01

The moral of the story is that if you beat the #1 team convincingly, 64 of
the last 80 points you've played, AND the mighty Socceroos, you get to stay 
in the top 10, but you have to come down one spot.

10) Sweden (9) 54,43

Oh, come on, Pele told me these guys were the best in Europe. Of course, if 
"best in Europe" = "#10 in the world" is the implied statement...

11) Ireland (10) 54,12 12) England (11) 53,89 

Aha! Ireland IS better than England.

13) Russia (14) 53,21 

Sure, they killed Mexico, but they only DREW against the US, and as we have 
seen, that means an automatic demotion on this list.

14) France (15) 52,02 

Are they still in FIFA?

15) Nigeria (18) 51,20

Oh oh.

16) Uruguay (17) 50,96 17) Mexico (16) 50,78 

When you lose your last two games by a combined score of 9-2, you come down 
one spot. When you don't play, you come up one spot.

18) Romania (13) 50,49 

They BEAT the US, you see. That would make them top 3 material. They lost to 
Hong Kong, however--home to the worst posts to RSS and God only knows what 
kind of futbol. So they are lucky to stay in the top 50.

19) Portugal (20) 48,80 20) Colombia (20) 48,56

These Colombians, they are so stubborn, they wanted the #20 all for 
themselves, so Portugal moves up.

21) USA (22) 46,58 

Well, these guys can't beat anybody, so they can't go up. Ok they beat 
Norway so they go up one spot. They would have gone higher if Fay Dunaway 
hadn't told Blatter to buzz off.

22) Egypt (26) 45,53

Don't they mean Tunisia? I guess these African countries all look alike...

23) Bulgaria (31) 45,15 

Since they were drawn into Argentina's group, they automatically go up.

24) Poland (28) 44,87

They drew España. They lost to the rest of the Universe, but they drew 

25) Scotland (24) 44,81 26) Belgium (25) 44,49 27) Wales (29) 44,25

First off, both Scotland and Wales are better than England. Belgium is a top 
five in the world cup seeding, but can't even make the top 24 on the FIFA 
list. I wonder which list matters more to them.

28) Marocco (30) 44,05

At least you got Colombia right.

29) Cameroon (23) 43,98 30) Zambia (27) 42,93.

Well, the ending is alphabetically correct at least.

From: stigop@lise.unit.no (Stig Oppedal)
Subject: How To Succeed Without Trying
Date: January 25, 1996

Despite the fact that neither Norway (out of EC; recent form P7 W0 D3 L4 
4-10), Denmark (EC finalist; beat Belgium away) nor France (EC finalist; 
beat Romania away) have played since the last FIFA ranking, we have somehow 
moved up from 10th to 9th place, bypassing the latter two nations in the 

Moral of the story: it’s only a matter of time before the FIFA ranking comes 
out on a weekly basis. 


PS - The bartender at Cherry’s Massage Parlor in Geneva, a favorite haunt of 
Sepp and Joey’s, is reportedly one Svein Larsen. Norway have never been out 
of the top ten. Make your own conclusions. 

From: mazzare@.primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Subject: Re: How To Succeed Without Trying
Date: January 26, 1996

Svein & Cherry’s Ice Cream Massage Parlor? Let’s make lots of money, 

From: kstokker@risc.uni-linz.ac.at (Karel Stokkermans)
Subject:  Re: FIFA rankings
Date: June 26, 1996

hm@custard.bnsc.rl.ac.uk (Huw Morris) writes:

> There's always a lot of discussion about FIFA rankings, but has anyone
> actually come up with anything better? The results of all internatinal 
> matches from x number of years ago are available online, so it should
> be a simple enough matter to actually check whether a better algorithm is
> possible.

There are two tries that are at least noteworthy (though I have to add
that I disagree with the idea of ranking in principle on the grounds
that there aren't enough matches for a worldwide comparison; only
continental comparisons make any sense imho).

Those two tries can be checked on the web:

Russell Gerrard's system at:

Keith Massey's and Eugene Potemkin's "ELECS" ranking at:
> In addition, the system rewards teams for playing lots of games while
> penalising teams for not playing so often. This is another reason for
> England's poor position - until Euro 96 we hadn't played a competitive
> game since WC94 qualifiers, back in 1993.

That's the second basic shortcoming of the ranking: it isn't zero-sum.
Russell's ranking is, and I believe the ELECS system is as well.

From: mazzare@primenet.com (Ariel Mazzarelli)
Subject: Re: European Bias in FIFA Rankings
Date: 18 Apr 1997
Organization: RSS Committee on the Treatment of Neurological Disorders

S Wren   wrote:
>> > But no African team higher than #20?  Paraguay at #31?
>> > Would France be #3 if they had to qualify for the Cup?
>> > And Denmark #4.  Too much in-breeding in the region?
>> I totally agree. Look at the number of African and South American
>> players now playing in the top European leagues. If they are no good why
>> are they being signed up?
>It must be remembered that the FIFA Coca Cola rankings are not decided on 
>a "in the pub having a chat over a pint" method but are in fact derived 
>from exact statistical analysis of the results of those nations. 

You have it EXACTLY backwards. In fact it is so exactly backwards that
I am reminded of that ancient (i.e. childish) trick of accusing someone
else of precisely the thing that applies to you.

EVERYBODY knows that the Coca Cola rankings were conjured up by
some Swiss bartenders while Sepp slept it off under the table.
You're not a newbie, so why do you deny this well-known fact?
>The teams played, the score differences, the competitions (or friendly) the 
>matches are played in, home or away, etc. are just some of the factors that 
>are inculded in the calcualtions for determining a teams points and 
>therefore  ranking. 

Somehow this would seem to include all the relevant factors. So, naturally,
one gets suspicious. But what conclusion do you jump to instead?

>You could argue that the formula is wrong but certainly it's not biased 
>decisions within FIFA that have come up with the rankings! 

Plug that hole in your head man, it's spilling bytes everywhere.

I am only going to waste my upper dermal layers once on this cocacola
ranking (at least for a few months) because you are not a newbie and it
worries me that after all this time you STILL HAVE NOT LEARNED.

The big problem with the coca cola ranking is that it is not zero-sum.
So those that play often are rewarded, and there is a strange inertia to
it that allows whatever initial seeding was used to carry on for years.

Consider the fact that Argentina managed to go 33 games undefeated, win
2 copa Americas in a row, and never got above #5. Ludicrous.

So the swiss bartenders thought that it would be fun if Luxembourg was
rated as high as Paraguay, so they stuck that in at the start. It will take
decades for that to be corrected because of the aforementioned lag.


>As for the comment re: France well the general concencous was that 
                                                ^^^^^^^^^^ consensus
>Englands ranking was LOWER than normal due to our lack of need to qualify 
>for EURO 96. Since we didn't have to qualify we only played friendlies 
>which are less rated than qulaifying matches when it comes to calcualting 
>points (and therefore rankings). 

I don't know what you consider "normal", but in South America England
would be ranked about #8--I won't mention which teams would be #9 or #10
because I don't want to offend anybody. Venezuela would be #11.
Of course we all know who is THIRD.

>For an example if England beat Germany (oh one day please let us do this 
>in a semi-final) 

Don't you find such pleading embarrassing? Just admit you are very inferior
and you might get some respect.

>in a friendly then we would gain less points than had we 
>beaten them in a qualifying tournament. Therefore it is a disadvanatge, 
>I would suggest, to not have to qualify (in terms of the rankings). 

Aside from buying the referee and playing in Wembley, how can you possibly
imagine beating Germany? Ok, futbol is a game where unpredicted events happen,
but really, if we are going to discuss rankings, your examples should not
mix England with Germany. You should ask yourself instead if England could
qualify over Costa Rica (use a fair coin for a good approximation).

>The comment re: African and South American players playing in Europe 
>misses one vital point. Having a few good players from your country does 
>not make your team a strong team. Look at Wales for example. 

Wales of course is one of the strongest South American sides--or was that
African? These UK subdivisions are sometimes a bit confusing to us outsiders.

>They have a
>player like Ryan Giggs, one of the best in the world perhaps, yet that 
>doesn't make Wales a great team. He needs 10 others of similar standard 
>to do that. Similarly with George Weah or Tony Yeboah. It's not how many 
>great players you have that matters but how great the team is as far as 
>the ranking are concerned. 

So, according to your malfunctioning hypothalamus, the problem with teams
like Argentina and Brasil and Paraguay and Uruguay and Ecuador and Chile 
and Peru and Colombia and Bolivia and Nigeria and Cameroun and Morocco and 
South Africa and Egypt and Algeria and Zambia is that they do not have as many 
good players as Norway. The damage from the '94WC quals is still with you.

I will petition on your behalf to the Committee, but I am not optimistic about
your chances for treatment. The damage caused by Reuters has been extensive, 
and it will take many years for RSS to fix it. It may be time for the 
locals@england to do their own thinking BEFORE they get here. There is only
so much that we can do.