Biggest Turnarounds in Ranking History

Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

October 13th, 2017, 10:53 am #1

As I continue to come to terms with the fact that Wales won't be at the World Cup next year, for a dose of 'enjoy it while it lasts' I had a quick check at the current FIFA World Rankings to see them at #13 for now at least. But I also noticed that their highest (#8 in 10/2015) and lowest (#117 in 08/2011) moments in the FIFA Rankings almost came within 4 years of eachother, meaning some of the results being used at the lowest point were close to being factored into the calculation while the team was at their peak*, although in the rankings of 07/2015 Wales were #10 so the 'overlap' can still somewhat apply. And aside from that, moving 109 places in such a timeframe is noteworthy even if it's by the FIFA calculation and there was system gaming involved.

Combined with hearing someone mention that this time a decade ago Iceland were losing 3-0 to Liechtenstein (and looking at their ranking history they managed to go from #131 [06/2012] > #23 [07/2015] in just over 3 years), it got me wondering what the biggest turnarounds in ranking history are?

Can be an objective topic but these things usually end up as a more subjective discussion anyway once 'not quite the record but still impressive' stories of national team achievement (probably like the ones above) are shared, so talk about any ranking (FIFA, ConIFA, UEFA, Elo, RoonBa, etc.), any direction (up, down... guess that's it), any length, obviously the bigger the range in a short timeframe the better.



* = he wrote in October 2017 hoping this part turns out to be wrong
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Joined: April 5th, 2012, 10:54 am

October 13th, 2017, 11:55 am #2

I see your Wales and I raise you Montenegro:
Highest: 16 (June 2011)
Lowest: 199 (June 2007)

Though that's cheating a bit, as a newly established team they of course started off with zero points.
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Joined: October 3rd, 2017, 5:24 pm

October 13th, 2017, 12:22 pm #3

Guinea Bissau come from #184 in 2013 to #68 in 2016
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

October 23rd, 2017, 6:25 am #4

I would have thought Northern Ireland enjoyed a similar uplift to Wales.

What about the reverse, i.e. the most plummetingest team?
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

October 24th, 2017, 6:31 am #5

It's another cheat but right now Kuwait probably have a shout.

#105 at the end of 2013 to however low they end up dropping at the end of this year (currently #186 with 2 months to go). Whoever said this doesn't know what they're talking about.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

November 24th, 2017, 4:02 am #6

Latest FIFA Rankings out now, with one of the biggest 'headlines' (used loosely because I doubt many big media outlets want to go near this one) being that for the first time ever🇵🇸🇮🇱. Nothing political, just two extremely bitter rivals experiencing swapped fortunes on the football pitch (and/or the dubious method of ranking them). Some people on the Palestine FA seem up for putting that new order to the test.

Also no less noteworthy in that picture is Israel being below 🇱🇺🇪🇪🇱🇧🇬🇼🇫🇴🇸🇱 in the table, amongst others.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

November 24th, 2017, 4:28 am #7

Well, this situation is not reflected in the Elo ratings, for example.
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Joined: October 31st, 2006, 5:16 pm

November 24th, 2017, 9:20 am #8

nfm24 wrote: Well, this situation is not reflected in the Elo ratings, for example.
Yes - probably because Palestine is not currently > Israel at football.  The main reason they are is because of the tiresome reason that FIFA rankings do not reflect current strength, but rather current form.  Palestine are not just below Israel in the Elo ratings, but are a considerable 28 places below them...

Still, all the underdogs love the FIFA rankings when they rank them too highly...
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

November 24th, 2017, 10:25 am #9

Yey!  We're ranked higher than a team which hasn't done very well at all, but against better opponents than we've played OK against!  Woo hoo!
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

November 24th, 2017, 12:07 pm #10

TheRoonBa wrote:Still, all the underdogs love the FIFA rankings when they rank them too highly...
That's pretty much it, the 'Palestine willing to play a friendly' article I linked to had their FA president mention how Israelis wouldn't shut up about the ranking when they were in a record-high 15th place, but now it's obviously worthless. Undermined somewhat by his own celebrating/gloating throughout, but what can you do?
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

November 24th, 2017, 8:23 pm #11

It's like winning the Europa League, or the Auto-Windscreens Shield.  Nobody cares about it or is remotely impressed, except the team which wins it.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

November 26th, 2017, 12:53 pm #12

nfm24 wrote: It's like winning the Europa League. Nobody cares about it or is remotely impressed, except the team which wins it.
It depends really, a certain West London club won it a few seasons back and it wasn't sufficient enough to stop the distain for the Spanish god that got them there. Although it did create one of the best-ever football facts for a week or so afterwards.

Then you have the other (relatively) big West London club that didn't get the trophy at the end, but I doubt their fans would consider it a waste of time. Even Swansea City a few seasons ago only made it as far as the Round of 32 but it probably counts amongst their fondest memories.

Overall I think a lot of clubs care about the Europa League, although the headline cases generally seem to be the ones that are enjoying continental runs as something of a rarity. The Champions League carrot they now hang certainly helps for bigger clubs, although I'd like to think Liverpool's 15/16 run would have generated similar excitement even without that bonus prize.

It all depends on attitude really, Red Star Belgrade arguably have a richer European history than Arsenal but guess which one has a great time and which one feels it's beneath them? Then you have West Ham who get knocked out pre-group stage twice in a row by Astra Giurgiu, they could have made a special atmosphere deeper in the competition but to try and spare some of the embarassment claim they didn't care anyway.

The Auto Windscreens Checkatrade Trophy, on the other hand, I think you're generally on the nose there, primarily because the organisers essentially downgraded it themselves last year.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

November 26th, 2017, 4:19 pm #13

Teams which are doing well in the ranking like to brag about it, and exaggerate the importance of it.  Teams which are doing badly will dismiss it as an irrelevance.  Much like the Europa League, or the Auto-Windscreens Shield.    The actual objective importance of the tournament isn't necessarily considered, just the subjective importance.

The media are much the same, except that in some countries (e.g. England) there is a sort of inverse effect of underplaying anything that suggests unwarranted success  -  e.g. "England are ranked in the top N but this must mean the rankings are gash because we're obviously crap".

Of course, many people remain oblivious to the fact that it is important to do well in the rankings (even stupid rankings) for seeding purposes.

That fact that Israel and Palestine are ranked similarly only indicates that Israel are doing worse than usual.  I don't see either of these teams getting remotely near to qualifying for the World Cup in the near future, even with 48 teams, so they can both celebrate mediocrity together, like Wales and Scotland.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

November 27th, 2017, 8:03 am #14

nfm24 wrote:The media are much the same, except that in some countries (e.g. England) there is a sort of inverse effect of underplaying anything that suggests unwarranted success  -  e.g. "England are ranked in the top N but this must mean the rankings are gash because we're obviously crap".

Of course, many people remain oblivious to the fact that it is important to do well in the rankings (even stupid rankings) for seeding purposes.

That fact that Israel and Palestine are ranked similarly only indicates that Israel are doing worse than usual.  I don't see either of these teams getting remotely near to qualifying for the World Cup in the near future, even with 48 teams, so they can both celebrate mediocrity together, like Wales and Scotland.
I've heard recently that some Italian news outlets are trying that angle of how [player that scored against us a few years ago] is responsible for their World Cup elimination (because then they wouldn't have been Pot 2 for the Qualifiers and drawn 🇪🇸, etc.). Alternatively then blaming the likes of 🇵🇱/🇨🇭 of gaming the system, if it was that important then why didn't you do the same thing? Maybe turn down that friendly, or just accept the € are worth the risk and that you just failed to get past what was in front of you regardless.

Then on the same token there's some story going around about Peru, how their sports minister wants to introduce government rule of the national FA, which of course is an invitation for a FIFA suspension and disqualification from any of their tournaments while suspended. Apparently some parts of the Italian media latched onto this and suggested that FIFA would call them up as the replacement to the World Cup, by virtue of being the highest-ranked team not already qualified. Not only was that last part not true (that honour currently falls to 🇨🇱), but most precedents with these tournament replacements usually call on the team that were beaten by [disqualified team], so on top of the Peruvian sports minister needing to go into witness protection if any of that was actually voted through (she's already denied it would), the place would probably belong to 🇳🇿.

And England of course love to underplay their performances in anything other than when the reverse happens for a tournament itself (and occassionally friendlies against 'the best'), I think there were some extreme downplaying of the rankings when Wales got ahead for a few months so if nothing else it's fairly predictable. Bonus points for whenever the English media do as the Italians did above and blame the rankings (and/or teams that system game) and not The FA's own decisions, whenever it could have helped to be a bit higher.
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Joined: April 7th, 2007, 12:28 pm

November 27th, 2017, 9:08 am #15

mattsanger92 wrote:
nfm24 wrote:Of course, many people remain oblivious to the fact that it is important to do well in the rankings (even stupid rankings) for seeding purposes.
I've heard recently that some Italian news outlets are trying that angle of how [player that scored against us a few years ago] is responsible for their World Cup elimination (because then they wouldn't have been Pot 2 for the Qualifiers and drawn 🇪🇸, etc.). Alternatively then blaming the likes of 🇵🇱/🇨🇭 of gaming the system, if it was that important then why didn't you do the same thing? Maybe turn down that friendly, or just accept the € are worth the risk and that you just failed to get past what was in front of you regardless.
I'm always surprised that teams don't seem to realise they can have their cake and eat it, by playing the lucrative friendly but just not calling it an international, or by making 7 subs, or using a non-standard referee, or not informing FIFA, or making some other minor code infringement to have the match discounted from the rankings.    They might even be able to do this retrospectively, as in some of the cases we've discussed elsewhere.

If Peru was suspended, it probably would be fairest to call up New Zealand as the directly eliminated opponent.   Overall, I suppose the most narrowly eliminated team
was N.Ireland, losing the playoff 0-1 with a very dodgy penalty.

I get the feeling that even if England won the World Cup there would still be a lot of media complaining about it being undeserved, and we're still rubbish,
and winning just insults the heroes of the Sir Pickles XI etc.
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Joined: July 4th, 2011, 6:46 am

November 27th, 2017, 10:37 am #16

nfm24 wrote:I'm always surprised that teams don't seem to realise they can have their cake and eat it, by playing the lucrative friendly but just not calling it an international, or by making 7 subs, or using a non-standard referee, or not informing FIFA, or making some other minor code infringement to have the match discounted from the rankings.    They might even be able to do this retrospectively, as in some of the cases we've discussed elsewhere.

I get the feeling that even if England won the World Cup there would still be a lot of media complaining about it being undeserved, and we're still rubbish,
and winning just insults the heroes of the Sir Pickles XI etc.
You'd think there's some 'spirit of the rules' thing against this but no, Belgium did this in plain sight and by doing nothing other than unrecognising the match (and with it Lukaku's goal record) FIFA have basically given the green light for others to do it too provided they know the minor consequences of having split records. Maybe they'll clamp down if it becomes an epidemic but the speed at which the big nations pick up on these tricks it'll be at least a decade before England or Italy consider putting on sub #7...

A lot of it is now moot though considering most international matches will now be officially-organised apart from the friendlies in pre-tournament months (and presumably subject to strict 3 or 6 sub limits), but still a few gaps on non-matchdays in the [insert League-format tournament here] to give it a go.

And it would be nice to see England lift the trophy next July (as of right now they're one of the 32 teams there - so there's a chance at least), would be even more fun if they recreate 'The Bobby' and see the media frothing at the sight of Jordan Henderson or Harry Kane up there (might need to break out my photoshop skills again for the latter) sullying the original.

You don't even need to hypothesize anymore to see what happens when England win a World Cup and pundits are angry with the celebration, enter the legend that is Danny Murphy, who really didn't need to enter... spoiler alert - the badge can be seen on the shorts.
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