The Unexplainable FIFA Rankings

The latest batch of FIFA rankings were released today and if they are to be believed, Netherlands are now the best football team in the world and England are the fourth, even better than Brazil.

I’ve never had total confidence in these rankings (they almost make ICC’s rankings look like an exact science), but they have usually provided a general guideline to the order in which the world’s top teams have performed, but that surely can’t be the case any more.

I heard a story a few weeks back in which a boffin who understands how these things work apparently pointed out to FIFA that Faroe Islands ranking was wrong and that they were too low down the order.
On reviewing this FIFA agreed with the boffin and moved Faroe Islands up the ranking to a lofty position above Wales.
Now anyone who knows anything about football, in fact anyone who could write their footballing knowledge on the back of the theoretical stamp, knows that with all the best will in the world – and say what you want about how bad Wales are – that in no way are Faroes better than Wales.
At the moment the Welsh sit in 117th place and Faroes in 111th place.
Is anyone really going to tell me that Netherlands are better than the current World and European champions, Spain? And that there is currently only 3 teams in the world who are better than England?
Come on! There must be a 1 missing in there somewhere, 13 teams better than England would be more accurate.
I don’t want to be too critical of something I don’t really understand. But the point is that FIFA use these rankings for seeding at draws for World cups and other major championships.
There is obviously a system which has to be followed to produce this listing, and I’m not suggesting this system is not being followed correctly.
So I can only conclude that if it is being correctly followed, then surely the whole system is wrong.

Was Sepp’s legacy already decided?

The fall out from England’s failed world cup bid is already in full flow and fingers are already being pointed in all kinds of directions with FIFA, the FA, Panorama and even Vlaiamir Putin all coming in for stick.

One thing I do believe though, is that never again should we be putting people like our future King (and I’m not a Royalist), our PM (or a massive fan of Cameron) and footballing icons like David Beckham, Bobby Charlton, etc, in the embarrassing position of having to pander to a bunch of shady characters like this lot.

How humiliating must it have been for Prince Willaim and David Beckham to have to sit through the results knowing that practically no one within FIFA took an ounce of notice of them. The FIFA executives just lapped up their attention and then laughed in their faces.

Quite where it went wrong, who knows. Did Putin not turn up ahead of the vote because he already knew the result and that he didn’t need too? Did FIFA want to teach the English a lesson? Or was it simply that FIFA wanted to take football to new corners of the globe?

Some people are blaming the BBC and their Panorama programme, I don’t buy that one myself. I also believe that all these people claiming that the BBC should have waited til a couple of days after the vote before screening the programme are deluded.

Did the FIFA executives not notice Andrew Jennings jumping out of bushes asking them questions over the last 18 months? FIFA knew that the programme had been made, so what difference did it make when it was shown? None in my view.

Congratulations to Russia, I do believe that they are worthy winners for 2018, I really haven’t got a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the manner in which the voting was carried out and a massive problem with the hosting of the 2022 competition in Qatar.

Apparently England only got 2 votes in the first ballot, with one of them coming from Geoff Thompson. Holland and Belgium got 4, nothing out of the ordinary there. What happened next was strange though, the Holland and Belgium bid only picked up 2 votes in the second ballot.

Why? It seems very strange that they lost 2 votes after the first round of voting. It is something which doesn’t seem to have been picked up by the mass ranks of the media, but it smells of an England stitch up to me.

Common sense tells you that a bidding nation(s) should gain votes going through the process, as one nation drops out, their votes would be spread around the remaining bidders.

That is unless you have already decided to conduct the vote to deliberately eliminate a bidding nation at the first hurdle.

If FIFA had already decided that they wanted to take the world cup to new horizons in Russia and Qatar, then they could have done us all a favour and told us about it a few years earlier, preferably before we started the bidding process.

Another theory doing the rounds that could have some credence, is the fact that two oil and gas rich nations with bottomless bits of money to throw at their respective campaigns have won.

But why wouldn’t two clean countries with all that money win a clean FIFA vote fair and square?

The Qatar one in particular is laughable. They were probably the worst bid of the 2 world cups and yet won the most easily. It totally stinks and I notice Barack Obama hasn’t been slow in letting it be known, at least he had the sense not to bother to turn up.

I hope this dosen’t come across as sour grapes, as it certainly isn’t. But while this current FIFA regime is still in place I don’t believe that England should even consider bidding to host any future world cup. Just what would be the point?

Poor old Sepp

Poor old Sepp Blatter was bemoaning the entrapment tactics of the British press at FIFA HQ on Friday. He still seems to think that FIFA members are the victims of a nasty sting by those naughty boys at the Sunday Times.

Blatter said, “But I cannot say that it is very fair when you open traps to entrap people. But if the objective is to have a clean sheet in football then I can understand it. These decisions may not have found total support of all the members of the executive committee, it would be exaggerated to pretend that.”

The point is Sepp, if your members are stupid and greedy enough to fall into the traps then they get what they deserve – although in not getting life bans, that is debatable.

He also says that these bans don’t have the total support of all the members. Why dosen’t that surprise me.

It seems that FIFA have got very offended that someone has had the audacity to try and expose their cushy little club. But why? There has been allegations of corruption for years, surely anyone with half a brain would have been expecting this.

Maybe they were expecting the sting to come in the form of a bloke wearing Arab robes and carrying a copy of the News of the World under his arm.

Somehow listening to Blatter’s comments, I can’t really see anything changing at FIFA, they still appear to be in denial.

With regard to his claim that the sting won’t affect England’s chances of hosting the 2018 world cup, I’m not convinced by that either. But if not buying into FIFA’s way of doing business costs England, then surely it’s a price worth paying.