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FIFA World Rankings, July 2010: Biggest Gains, Losses, Surprises

Because the system by which the FIFA World Rankings is determined weighs World Cup results most heavily, it's no surprise that soccer's quadrennial world championship is usually followed some sharp changes amongst the governing body's world rankings.  Add that effect to the weighting of most recent results and it's almost-expected to see a team make a jump like Uruguay's:  from 16th to sixth.

The South American semifinalists are amongst the World Cup qualifiers who experienced the greatest gains from their South African success:

Greatest Gainers, July 2010 FIFA World Rankings*
Change Nation Previous Rank Current Rank
+24 New Zealand 78 54
+17 South Africa 83 66
+15 Paraguay 31 16
+13 Japan 45 32
+10 Uruguay 16 6
* - World Cup 2010 qualifiers only.

New Zealand's 24 spot improvement was the largest for the 202 team ranking, remarkable not only for the jump itself but for the fact the such jumps usually come lower in the table, where team point totals are more tightly bunched. The team that made the second-greatest gain the rankings, Botswana, improved 23 spots to 93rd (thanks to wins over Tunisia and Chad).

The rankings, however, are a zero sum game. If somebody moves up, somebody must move down, and if there's a greatest gainer's table, there's got to be a greatest faller's:

Greatest Fallers, July 2010 FIFA World Rankings*
Change Nation Previous Rank Current Rank
-21 Cameroon 19 40
-12 France 9 21
-9 Nigeria 21 30
-8 Honduras 38 46
-7 Mexico 17 24
* - World Cup 2010 qualifiers only.

What Botswana was to the gainers, Haiti is to the fallers, not playing any matches since the May 10 rankings and, as such, were unable to replace the ranking points that rolled off-the-books. Losing over half of their points, Haiti fell from 91st to 130th.

Amongst the rankings that may have surprised was Egypt's.  The African champions did not qualify for the World Cup, yet they jumped into the top ten, now sitting ninth despite not playing any friendlies since March's loss to England.

Highest Ranking, Non-World Cup 2010 Qualifiers
Change Nation Previous Rank Current Rank
+3 Egypt 12 9
-5 Croatia 10 15
-6 Russia 11 17
0 Norway 22 22
-2 Ukraine 23 25

But back to England, who have to be amongst the biggest surprises on the list. England made the Round of 16 in South Africa but won once in four matches. Their ranking rose from eighth to seventh.

Amongst the other surprises:

  • Greece gains one spot, moving to 12th, despite failing to make it out of group play at the World Cup.
  • Peru, the worst team in South American qualifying, rose 15 spots and is now 38th in the world.
  • The Korea Republic gained only three spots, moving to 44th, despite making the Round of 16.