Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Canada's so bad it...

Half-baked Canadian sports columnists (I'll spare you my list of who they are because someone here might work for a chain that might have a few of them) like to point to the FIFA world rankings to set-up brilliant jokes about Canada's lack of ability on the soccer pitch.

We're so bad we're ranked between Congo and Cuba...yuk yuk yuk...

Sadly, these columnists rarely put the rankings in context, thus conveying to the general population the idea that Canada is actually about the same as Congo and Cuba. It's a tad frustrating to those of us that wish to grow the game here. Just a tad.

With reluctance, and only to illustrate how flawed the rankings are, I give you the July world rankings.

You'll note that Canada is 77th. Yes, it's between Congo and Cuba. The rankings represent a drop of 17 spots from last month. Keep in mind this is from a time frame that saw Canada score two goals against Brazil in a 3-2 loss, tie Panama and win its second round World Cup Qualifier 7-1 on aggregate. Yet, it dropped. Seventeen spots.

Panama, who was eliminated from the World Cup actually leapfrogged over Canada in the rankings. The Bahamas, who lost 13-0 to Jamaica, moved up a spot.

If any of that makes any sense to you then by all means continue to reference the FIFA World Rankings when talking about the status of Canadian soccer.

Although no ranking system is perfect, the footy connoisseur understands that the World Football ELO Ratings are the superior system. Whereas the FIFA rankings throw points around blindly, the ELO list gives points out that better reflect the game that took place -- i.e. you get more points for upset wins and competitive fixtures, less for friendlies and for beating up minnows (a sure fire way Canada could rocket up the FIFA list would be to play the Cayman Islands in a 10 game series...).

Canada is 27 spots higher on the ELO list, ranked 50th in the world. It's still not spectacular, but it is a far better reflection of where it really stands.

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