NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINargentinaARGENTINAchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOperuPERUlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA


How do FIFA World Rankings work? Who has moved up and down after the World Cup?

Argentina just miss out on top spot in the new FIFA World Ranks, while there is a new CONCACAF number one.

Habitación de Lionel Messi en Qatar será convertida en un museo pequeño

Despite winning the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Argentina have failed to dislodge arch-rivals Brazil at the top of the FIFA World Rankings by virtue of failing to win the final outright. La Albiceleste, also the current Copa América holders, would’ve moved to the top of the tree had they beaten France in over 90 or even 120 minutes, but the fact that their victory came via a penalty shootout has allowed A Seleção to hang onto first place by the skin of their teeth. The same would also have applied to third-placed France had they won.

The FIFA World Rankings top 10

The World Cup finalists have both moved up one spot on the list, with Belgium, who were disappointingly knocked out in the group stage, falling two places to fourth. You get the feeling that it might be a while until we see the Red Devils reach the dizzy heights of second again…

Staying inside the top 10, World Cup quarter-finalists the Nethrlands have moved up two spots into sixth, Croatia, who finished third, are up five places to seventh but Spain drop three and into 10th after losing in the round of 16. There’s no change for England (fifth) or Portugal (ninth), while Italy, who failed to qualify, are down two spots to eighth.

Which countries have moved up the FIFA World Rankings?

The biggest movers are – unsurprisingly – Morocco (11th), who shocked the world by reaching the last four, and Australia (27th), beaten in the round of 16 by the eventual winners. They have both leapt 11 places in the rankings. Cameroon jumped 10 spots to 33rd, mainly as a result of their group-stage victory over Brazil, which wasn’t enough to see them through to the knockout round.

Which countries have moved down the FIFA World Rankings?

You won’t be surprised to hear that the biggest losers from the World Cup are countries that were eliminated in the first round of the tournament. Canada and hosts Qatar lost all three matches and have fallen 12 places to 53rd and 62nd respectively, Wales are down nine spots to 28th, while Denmark (18th) and Serbia (29th) have both dropped eight places.

Which is the highest-rank country is CONCACAF?

And there is a new top dog in CONCACAF. Mexico had led the way going into the World Cup, three spots ahead of the USMNT. But El Tri’s group-stage elimination coupled with the United States reaching the round of 16 means the Stars and Stripes have leapfrogged their North American rivals. The USMNT are now 13th, with Mexico 15th.

Here is the top 10 with a few selected others:

1. Brazil

2. Argentina

3. France

4. Belgium

5. England

6. Netherlands

7. Croatia

8. Italy

9. Portugal

10. Spain

11. Morocco

13. USA

14. Germany

15. Mexico

16. Uruguay

17. Colombia

53. Canada

How do FIFA World Rankings work?

Although plenty of casual observers and indeed fans in general tend not to pay too much attention to the FIFA World Rankings, they are important in that they are used in draws for international tournaments and qualification for international tournaments. Teams ranked high up will tend to get ‘easier’ draws, while the opposite is true for those ranked lower down.

The rankings began in 1992 and use a points-scoring system to work out which team should be placed where in the standings. The current system, which has been in places since 2018, sees points added or subtracted from a country’s previous total based on their results in a particular international window.

These points are added or subtracted based on the calibre of opponents that a team faces (as mentioned Cameroon didn’t get past the group stage reason but jumped up 10 spots because they got lots of points for beating Brazil, ranked number one. Had they instead beaten Serbia, ranked 21st at the start of the tournament, they would have received much fewer points).

The ‘expected’ result of any given match is also taken into account, which means teams receive more points for overperforming. For instance, France and Australia both defeated Denmark in the group stage but Les Bleus received fewer points for that victory as they were favourites to win.

The type of match being played is also a factor; as you might imagine, a victory in a World Cup fixture carries more weight than one in a friendly match.

FIFA’s ‘importance co-efficient for World Rankings

FIFA have outlined their ‘importance co-efficient’ on their website.

  • 5 – friendlies played outside the International Match Calendar windows
  • 10 – friendlies played within the International Match Calendar windows
  • 15 – UEFA Nations League matches (group stage)
  • 25 – UEFA Nations League matches (playoffs and finals), Confederations’ final competitions qualifiers, FIFA World Cup qualifiers
  • 35 – Confederations’ final competitions matches (before quarter-finals)
  • 40 – Confederations’ final competitions matches (quarter-finals and later)
  • 50 – FIFA World Cup matches (before quarter-finals)
  • 60 – FIFA World Cup matches (quarter-finals, semi-finals, third place play-off and final)

They’ve also been kind enough to provide us with an example of how it works, which you may need a degree in Mathematics to work out:

Example: Team A has 1300 points before the match and wins a continental qualifier against team B that has 1500 points. 

For team A the formula is: P=1300+25*(1–(1/(10 exp (-(1300–1500)/600) +1))) 

For team B the formula is: P = 1500 + 25 * (0- (1 / (10 exp (-(1500-1300)/600) + 1))) 

Thus, team A wins 17 points and has P = 1317 points after the match. 

Team B loses the same number of points and thus ends up with 1483 points after the match.

Hopefully you get the gist of it…

Why are Argentina not number one in the FIFA World Rankings?

One final point worth mentioning which is related to current events which were mentioned right at the start of this piece. Penalty shootout defeats amass the same number of points as a draw, while penalty shootout victories are worth half of a victory, with the failure to pick up maximum points from the World Cup final the reason why Argentina have failed to move to the top of the rankings. Brazil are safe for now…although they would’ve much preferred a World Cup of their own.


To be able to comment you must be registered and logged in. Forgot password?