Officially, there is no world ranking of club-level football, as for example for national teams. But wouldn't it be nice to see how your favorite club compares to teams around the globe? Over several years, we gathered results of football matches in almost 200 countries of more than 6000 teams. We adapted the FIFA ranking to fit club-level football to provide an always up-to-date (Our ranking is updated every Tuesday) ranking of teams around the globe.
FIFA published their first world ranking of national teams in 1993. The ranking is since then perpetually under scrutiny by fans, media and, often self-proclaimed, domain experts. The majority of criticism targets the calculation procedure and the resulting discordance between perceived quality and ranking of several nations. Belgium’s surprising rank as world number 1 in November 2015, although they had only participated in one major tournament between 2003 and 2015, is just one of many examples.
Yet, a critical and easily overlooked point is the infrequent match schedule. National teams only play a couple of relevant games a year, if at all. Determining a meaningful ranking with such a little amount of data is challenging to begin with. Thus, the question is if the observed irregularities come from the inadequacy of the ranking scheme, or are simply an artifact of the sparse data basis.
We adapted FIFA’s ranking scheme to club-level football to see if the mentioned points of criticism also hold on a larger body of games. The world-wide ranking on our page should thus not be deemed as a try to accurately rank club-level football around the world, but rather as an experiment on the effectiveness of the underlying method. A more detailed description of our approach can be found here.
Soccerverse is by far not the only platform publishing football rankings. Below you find a collection of other pages that publish official and unofficial rankings of the world or parts of it.
An official Club ranking in Europe is the UEFA Club Coefficient, used for seeding in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Similar official rankings exist for example for the Asian Football Confederation, AFC, and the Confederation of African Football, CAF.
clubelo.com uses the Elo rating system to rank all teams of the UEFA. The Elo system is a pretty simple formula, which makes it a very popular rating method in several sports. Developed for chess, it has since been used for NBA, NFL and tennis among others. Their also exists a version for national teams as an unofficial counterpart of the FIFA world ranking.
Another Ranking for European football is the Euro Club Index. In its essence it is also related to the Elo system. Although the Euro Club Index and Clubelo have a similar underlying procedure, they produce slightly different rankings. Exploring these differences is certainly worthwhile.
A world-wide ranking is provided by footballdatabase.com. This ranking is yet again based on the Elo system and described in their methodology section. A very different approach is taken by clubworldranking.com. The side provides a world-wide ranking based on the ATP ranking procedure in tennis.
If you check all these ranking sides, you will notice subtle differences in all rankings. But which one is the most accurate? Is it even possible to judge that? Regardless of accuracy, world rankings are fun and provide enough fuel for conflict for heated discussions among football fans around the globe.