FIFA World Ranking system (1999–2006)

Last updated

The FIFA men's ranking system 1999–2006 is a calculation technique previously used by FIFA for ranking men's national teams in football (soccer). The ranking system was introduced by FIFA in 1999, as an update to an earlier system, and was replaced after the 2006 World Cup with a simplified system.

FIFA International governing body of association football

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association is a non-profit organization which describes itself as an international governing body of association football, fútsal, beach soccer, and efootball. It is the highest governing body of football.

2006 FIFA World Cup 18th FIFA World Cup, held in Germany in 2006

The 2006 FIFA World Cup was the 18th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 9 June to 9 July 2006 in Germany, which won the right to host the event in July 2000. Teams representing 198 national football associations from all six populated continents participated in the qualification process which began in September 2003. Thirty-one teams qualified from this process, along with the host nation, Germany, for the finals tournament. It was the second time that Germany staged the competition, and the tenth time that it was held in Europe.

The FIFA men's ranking system 2006–2018 is a calculation technique previously used by FIFA for ranking men's national teams in football. The ranking system was introduced by FIFA after the 2006 FIFA World Cup, as an update to an earlier system, and was replaced after the 2018 World Cup with a revised Elo-based system.


The rankings were fundamentally the same as a league system, though on a much larger, and more complex scale. Each team could potentially win a certain number of points in each match, though the number of points awarded in a league system depends solely on the result of the match, in the FIFA rankings far more had to be taken into account, as every team does not play all of the other teams home and away every season, as in most league systems. After the awarding of points, the teams were then organized into descending order by number of points, with the team with the most being the highest ranked.

The points allocated did not depend solely on whether a team wins, loses or draws their match, but also on the importance of the match and the strength of the opponent. A win over a weak opponent resulted in fewer points being awarded than a win over a much stronger one. This meant that a match would not result in the two or three points for a win and one for a draw, as is standard in most national league competitions. The calculation was more complex since it had to incorporate the other aforementioned factors. [1]

One of the changes that was introduced when the ranking system was revised in 1999 was dubbed the "scaling up", where the points on offer for a match were roughly multiplied by ten, with the addition of more factors. In the 1999–2006 system teams could receive between zero and thirty points for a single match, and the leaders of the rankings had over eight hundred points.


The rankings were intended by FIFA to give a fair ranking of all FIFA member associations' senior men's national teams. For the ranking all matches, their scores and importance were all recorded, and were used in the calculation procedure. Only matches for the senior men's national team were included – separate ranking systems were used for other representative national sides, such as the women's and junior teams, for example the FIFA Women's World Rankings. FIFA did not use the same formula to determine its rankings for women's football. The women's rankings were based on a procedure which was a simplified version of the Football Elo Ratings. [2]

The FIFA Women's World Rankings for football were introduced in 2003, with the first rankings published in March of that year, as a follow-on to the existing Men's FIFA World Rankings. They attempt to compare the strength of internationally active women's national teams at any given time.

For the purposes of calculating the importance of matches, each match was divided into one of six categories. Competitions that were not endorsed by the appropriate continental association of FIFA were counted as friendlies. Each category was given appropriate weighting in the calculation in order to correctly include the importance. The six categories were:

FIFA World Cup Association football competition for mens national teams

The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War. The current champion is France, which won its second title at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

The FIFA Confederations Cup was an international association football tournament for men's national teams, held every four years by FIFA. It was contested by the holders of each of the six continental championships, along with the current FIFA World Cup holder and the host nation, to bring the number of teams up to eight.

A computer program was used to calculate the rankings. Points were awarded according to the following criteria:

In order to try to remove the obvious advantage of having more matches, only the best seven matches each year were taken into account, as seven was the average number of matches a team played per year. Older matches were given diminishing importance within the calculation, in order to reward teams' most recent form, [1] so the calculations only took into account teams' performances over the previous eight years.

At the end of each season two prizes were awarded by FIFA; Team of the Year and Best Mover of the year.

Winning, drawing or losing

In any football ranking system, a win will bring more points than a draw or a loss. Until July 2006, however, FIFA believed that awarding points simply on the basis of win, draw or loss, would not meet the requirements of a reliable and accurate world ranking system.

The calculations took into account the relative strengths of the two teams. This resulted in more points being awarded for beating a stronger opponent than for beating a relatively weak one. It also enabled weak teams to earn points despite a defeat if they managed to play well (i.e. they scored goals, or there was low margin of defeat), though this was a small number and did not secure as many points as the winning team. In the event of a match being decided on penalties, the winners received the correct points for the victory. The losers received points for the draw which they earned in normal time.

Number of goals

When calculating the points, the number of goals was taken into consideration, and the distribution of the points between the two teams was also affected by their relative strengths (i.e. the lower ranked a team was in comparison to its opponent, the more points it received for a goal scored), and as well as points being given for goals scored, they were deducted from the total for conceding goals. In order to encourage more attacking football, points given for goals scored were weighted far more heavily than the deduction as a result of conceding, though most teams were more concerned with the tournament or match at hand than their position in the world rankings. When a match was decided on penalties, only those goals scored in playing time were included in the total.

To prevent "overweighing" goals, and huge numbers of points being given in runaway victories, far more weighting was attached to the initial goal by each team, and progressively fewer points for any subsequent ones. This was done on the principle that the goals scored were important but the most important factor was the win or loss, as in normal championship games.

Home and away games

To allow for the extra handicap incurred by playing away from home, a small bonus of three points per match was awarded to the away team. For tournaments played on neutral territory, but with a home team, such a World Cup Finals, there were no bonus points given.

Status of a match

The relative game importance was also considered when calculating the points. The method for incorporating this into the totals points allocation was by multiplying the match points by a predetermined weighting. These factors were:

Friendly matchx 1.00
Continental championship preliminaryx 1.50
World Cup preliminary matchx 2.50
Continental championship finals matchx 3.00
FIFA Confederations Cup matchx 3.00
World Cup finals matchx 4.00

Regional strength factors

Due to significant differences in national team strengths between continents, weighting factors were worked out each year for each confederation, based the member teams of the confederation's performances in intercontinental encounters and competitions. Not all intercontinental matches were taken into account, only matches between the strongest 25 percent of teams from each continent, with a minimum of five teams from each continent considered. This averted errors that could be caused by considering matches where relatively strong teams from one confederation defeated weak teams from another.

The weightings were applied in the form of multiplication factors for teams from the same continent. If teams from two different confederations were involved in one match then the factor applied was the average of the two continental weightings. For 2005, weighting factors ranged from 1.00 for UEFA teams to 0.93 for OFC teams.


Based on the above considerations, the total number of points credited to a team after a match depended on the following criteria:


The number of points for a win, draw or loss, as well as for the number of goals scored or conceded was dependent on the strength of the opponent. In order not to punish a lack of success too severely, a negative points total was rounded up to zero. [1]

These examples have also been used to demonstrate the Elo football ratings system for a fair comparison. Here are some calculation examples to show the formula being used. For simplicity in this instance it is assumed that three teams of different strengths are involved in a small friendly tournament on neutral territory.

Note:no away team bonus, nor continental or status multiplication factors are applied.

Before the tournament the three team have the following point totals:


As shown, team A is by some distance the highest ranked of the three: The following table shows the divisions of point allocations based on three possible outcomes of the match between the far stronger team A, and the somewhat weaker team B:

Example 1

Team A versus Team B (Team A stronger than Team B)

Team ATeam BTeam ATeam BTeam ATeam B
Score3 : 11 : 32 : 2
Points for Win/defeat+17.4+2.6−2.6+22.6+7.4+12.6
Points for Goals Scored+5.4+2.7+2.3+6.2+4.1+4.7
Points for Goals Conceded−1.8−3.6−4.1−1.6−3.1−2.7

As is shown on the table, in the case of a 3:1 win, team a receives an allocation of 21.0 points, however, since team A is a much higher ranked team, the win alone earns only 17.4 of the total points, and the much lower ranked team B still manages to earn 1.7 points. Had match been won 3:1 by the far weaker team B, they would have received 27.2 points, whilst team A would have received a negative total of points, which would then have been rounded up to 0.0. If the result had been a 2:2 draw, since it is the lower-rated team, B would have earned a few points more than team A.

Example 2

Team B versus Team C (both teams approximately the same strength)

When the difference in strength between the two teams is less, so also the difference in points allocation will be fewer. The following table shows how the points would be divided following the same results as above, but with two roughly equally ranked teams, B and C, being involved:

Team BTeam CTeam BTeam CTeam BTeam C
Score3 : 11 : 32 : 2
Points for Win/defeat+19.4+0.4−0.4+20.4+9.6+10.4
Points for Goals scored+5.7+2.5+2.5+5.8+4.3+4.4
Points for Goals conceded−1.7−3.8−3.9−1.7−3.0−2.9

Further criteria

To increase the level of accuracy and objectivity of the rankings, after the 1999 revision, further criteria were introduced. Firstly, the number of matches a team plays within a given period of time was taken into account. Secondly, the importance attached to previous results would be interpreted differently.

The number of matches played

In order to ensure that an increased number of fixtures in a given season did not give a team more potential points, the rankings only considered a limited number of results. This number was determined by deciding how many fixtures in a season an "averagely active team" would participate in. This was agreed to be between seven and ten matches a year.

In order to prevent teams with more fixtures than this being given an advantage, the calculation initially considered only the best seven results of a team. To include further results an average of them must be calculated.

For example, if a team played twelve matches:

Previous results

In order to assure that the rankings best reflected a team's current form, the most recent results were of greatest importance; however attention was also paid to the results of previous years. The results from the preceding year were given full weighting, with the results from one to two years before given seven eighths of their value, those from two to three years before given six eighths, and so on until after eight years the results are dropped from calculation completely.

Related Research Articles

Elo rating system method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in zero-sum games such as chess

The Elo rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in zero-sum games such as chess. It is named after its creator Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor.

FIFA World Rankings world ranking list

The men's FIFA World Ranking is a ranking system for men's national teams in association football, currently led by Belgium. The teams of the men's member nations of FIFA, football's world governing body, are ranked based on their game results with the most successful teams being ranked highest. The rankings were introduced in December 1992, and eight teams have held the top position, of which Brazil have spent the longest ranked first.

The ICC Test Championship is an international competition run by the International Cricket Council for the 12 teams that play Test cricket. The competition is notional in the sense that it is simply a ranking scheme overlaid on all international matches that are otherwise played as part of regular Test cricket scheduling with no consideration of home or away status.

The ICC ODI Championship is an international One Day International (ODI) cricket competition run by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The competition is notional in that it is simply a ranking scheme overlaid on the regular ODI match schedule. After every ODI match, the two teams involved receive points based on a mathematical formula. Each team's points total is divided by their total number of matches played to give a rating, and all the teams are ranked in a table in order of rating.

European Golden Shoe UEFA award for the top-scorer of a season

The European Golden Shoe is an award that is presented each season to the leading goalscorer in league matches from the top division of every European national league. The trophy is a sculpture of a football boot. From its inception in the 1967–68 season, the award, originally called Soulier d'Or, which translates from French as Golden Shoe or Boot, has been given to the top goalscorer in all European leagues during a season, with a weighting in favour of the highest ranked leagues. Originally presented by L'Équipe magazine, it has been awarded by the European Sports Media since the 1996–97 season.

In European football, the UEFA coefficients are statistics used for ranking and seeding teams in club and international competitions. Introduced in 1979, the coefficients are calculated by UEFA, who administer football within Europe.

The World Rugby Rankings is a ranking system for men's national teams in rugby union, managed by World Rugby, the sport's governing body. The teams of World Rugby's member nations are ranked based on their game results, with the most successful teams being ranked highest. A point system is used, with points being awarded on the basis of the results of World Rugby-recognized international matches. Rankings are based on the team's performance, with more recent results and more significant matches being more heavily weighted to help reflect the current competitive state of a team. The ranking system was introduced the month before the 2003 Rugby World Cup, with the first new rankings issued on 8 September 2003. World Rugby now also publishes rankings for women's teams.

In a group tournament, unlike a knockout tournament, there is no scheduled decisive final match. Instead, all the competitors are ranked by examining the results of all the matches played in the tournament. Typically, points are awarded for each match, with competitors ranked based either on total number of points or average points per match. Usually each competitor finishes with an equal number of matches, in which case rankings by total points and by average points are equivalent at the end of the tournament, though not necessarily while it is in progress. Examples with unequal numbers of matches include the 1895 County Championship in English cricket, and the U.S. National Football League prior to 1972, when tie games were excluded from the winning percentage used for regular-season standings.

The FIBA World Rankings are FIBA's rankings of national basketball teams. FIBA ranks both men's and women's national teams for both senior and junior competitions. It also publishes combined rankings for all mixed-sex competitions.

The RLIF World Rankings are the ranking system for men's national teams in the sport of rugby league football. The teams of the member nations of the Rugby League International Federation, rugby league football's world governing body, are ranked based on their game results with the most successful teams being ranked highest. A point system is used, with points being awarded based on the results of RLIF-recognized international matches. Under the existing system, rankings are based on a team's performance over the last three years, with more recent results and more significant matches being more heavily weighted to help reflect the current competitive state of a team.

This all-time table compares men's national association football teams that have participated in the FIFA World Cup by several criteria including tournaments played, consecutive tournaments played or missed, matches, wins, draws, losses, goals, points, points per match, best finish, and confederation.

The ICC T20 Championship is an international Twenty20 cricket competition run by the International Cricket Council. The competition is notional in that it is simply a ranking scheme overlaid on the regular T20I match schedule. After every T20I match, the two teams involved receive points based on a mathematical formula. The total of each team's points total is divided by the total number of matches to give a rating, and all teams are ranked on a table in order of rating.

The European qualifying for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup was a women's football tournament organized by UEFA. A record 46 entrants were competing for eight spots. For the first time Albania and Montenegro entered a senior competitive tournament. The first matches were held on 4 April 2013.

The 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship started with a qualifying competition which began in March 2013 and finished in September 2014. The final tournament was held in the Czech Republic. The draw for the qualifying rounds was held on 31 January 2013 in Nyon, with matches played between March 2013 and September 2014.

The UEFA Women's Euro 2017 qualifying competition was a women's football competition that determined the 15 teams joining the automatically qualified hosts Netherlands in the UEFA Women's Euro 2017 final tournament.

The 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying competition was a men's under-21 football competition that determined the 11 teams joining the automatically qualified hosts Poland in the 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship final tournament.

The European qualifying competition for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup was a women's football competition that determined the eight UEFA teams joining the automatically qualified hosts France in the final tournament.

The World Football Elo Ratings is a ranking system for men's national association football teams that is published by the website It is based on the Elo rating system but includes modifications to take various football-specific variables into account, like the margin of victory, importance of a match, and home field advantage. Other implementations of the Elo rating system are possible and there is no single nor any official Elo ranking for football teams.


  1. 1 2 3 "FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings". FIFA. Archived from the original on 8 March 2005. Retrieved 23 June 2008.
  2. "FIFA Women's World Ranking Methodology". FIFA. 30 May 2006. Archived from the original on 17 July 2006.

See also