It was interesting to hear both Ronnie Whelan and Eamon Dunphy pass judgement on Georgia’s performance against Ireland in light of their FIFA World Ranking. Both pundits were surprised at the standard of play of the team ranked 147th in the world behind the likes of Guam, Aruba, Bermuda, and Belize. On the balance of play against Ireland, one would have to fancy Georgia against the likes of Guam despite being ranked below them.
A countries co-efficient is calculated over a four year period using a number of metrics (I provide a full explanation here). To quickly recap, the number of points that can be taken from any given match is dependent upon four variables:
1. The result in the match (M) (three points for a win, one for a draw, zero for a loss).
2. How important the match is e.g. finals game, qualifier, friendly, etc. (I).
3. The world ranking of the opposition and (T).
4. The confederation to which the countries belong (C).
In Ireland’s case, the results against Georgia is worth the following points: 3 (M) x 2.5 (I) x 53 (T) x 1 (C) = 397.5
Georgia's calculation looks like this: 0 x 2.5 x 149 x 1 = 0. A bit harsh I would think. Scotland's calculation against Germany looks like this: 0 x 2.5 x 199 x 1 = 0. Again, harsh on the Scots. Regardless of how a country performs in a match, no points are awarded for a loss.
Given that Georgia have to compete against Germany, Poland, Ireland and Scotland in Group D of the EURO 2016 qualifiers, their best hope of accumulating ranking points is against the lowest ranked team (Gibraltar). Teams based in other continents, whilst carrying a lower confederation ranking, play against less competent teams all the time. This may explain why Georgia are so poorly ranked. It’s not that they are weaker than the likes of Guam, Aruba, Bermuda, and Belize, it’s that they are in the UEFA confederation and are drawn to play against some of the best teams in the world. So be it 7-0 or 1-0, the outcome is the same - multiplying by zero, regardless of any other factor, will always produce zero!
It’s time for FIFA to (again) revisit it’s method for calculating these points. Surely, the Scots deserve something for their two goals against the world champions. The current system seems to create vicious and virtuous cycles. This further explain why Wales are now 9th in the world.