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Scotland suffer slump in FIFA world rankings

Craig Levein's team have dropped to 66th, a fall of 16 places, with three months remaining to move up again ahead of the 2014 World Cup draw.

Scotland's defeat to Brazil contributed in part to a drop of 16 places in the latest FIFA world rankings.
©SNS Group

Scotland have dropped 16 places in the latest FIFA world rankings, increasing the importance of May’s Nations Cup games against Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

Craig Levein’s team lost 2-0 to Brazil in their only fixture since the publication of the last ranking list, a result which saw the nation’s standing slump from 50th to 66th in the world.

The drop, which puts Scotland a place behind Northern Ireland, could also have an adverse effect on which pot the country finds itself in for the 2014 World Cup draw, which takes place in Rio de Janeiro on July 30.

Based on the rankings before the Brazil match, Scotland were on course to be in pot three for the draw. Now, Scotland are at the foot of pot four, narrowly ahead of Poland and Austria. The result against Brazil however did not directly contribute to the nation's drop.

With a number of games to be played by European nations between now and the publication of the FIFA rankings in July, which will determine the seedings for the draw, speculating on where Scotland’s name will fall will be determined as much by the performance of other countries, as well as the form of Levein’s team.

But gaining results against Wales and the Republic of Ireland in May will be essential to ensure Scotland can have a say in their own destiny, or face possibly dropping into the fifth pot for the World Cup draw.

Scotland’s demise is a contribution of two factors. Using FIFA’s calculation formula for their rankings, no points were awarded to the country’s ranking total as a result of the defeat to Brazil.

A total of 34 points were however lost from Scotland’s total, taking their tally to 517, which is a direct result of the assessment period used to calculate the points.

Results within the previous 48 months are taken into consideration, meaning two fixtures in March 2007 – against Italy and Georgia in the qualification rounds for Euro 2008 – are no longer included.

The significance of results within the four year period, which are grouped into averages in 12 month chunks, also decline year on year, with accumulated ranking points from each match being multiplied by one in the first year to give the overall score from an individual game.

That multiplier declines to 0.5 after 12 months, 0.3 after 24 months and 0.2 in the period 36-48 months after a result has been recorded.

As FIFA's guidance on the rankings states: “Teams who often lose or draw matches will get fewer points. Furthermore, any team that records a major victory (e.g. a continental championship title) will suffer losses in the ranking 12 months later if, by that time, it has not gained lots of points in more recent matches.

“The longer it is since a match was played, the less important it becomes for the ranking. This continues until, after four years, the match no longer has any impact on the calculation of the ranking. As a result, it is possible for teams to climb or fall in the ranking even if they have not played.”

Points are calculated on a match by match basis using a formula which takes into consideration the result, whether it was a tournament, qualification or friendly match, the strength of the opposition based on their ranking position and the strength of the region they are from. If a team loses, they receive no points.

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