Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Flawed System

FIFA released it's new world rankings with newly crowned European champion Spain sitting atop the table. No issue with that, nor with Italy, Germany, Brazil and Holland rounding out the top 5. What gets me is the American side falling all the way to 30th. I understand that the rankings are based on a point system that awards teams for winning games against highly ranked opponents. I guess it's sort of like RPI. So I get that the US beatdown of Barbados (ranked 137) a few weeks ago didn't exactly turn heads.

But really, the US isn't a better side than Scotland? I love Scotland, but their team would probably not beat the US in a match, and the Scots are ranked 16. What about Mexico? The US usually fares well against the Mexicans, especially on home soil. Yet Mexico is ranked 19. Others listed higher than America such as Paraguay, Israel and Nigeria are all sides you could honestly expect the US to beat.

The FIFA rankings need to be used, at least in this country, not as a barometer of where the US stands in relation to other countries, but simply as one poll based on one equation. Mainstream media will surely announce that American soccer is in a low period and that interest is waning in the world's game as a result. To the contrary, American interest in soccer is growing and is not dependent on the US national team. If they do well, that's good, but seeing their ranking drop to 30th will not keep those whose interest has grown as a result of the fabulously entertaining Euro 2008 tournament from tuning in in the future.

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