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Approach with humor: New FIFA world rankings released

Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 28: Steven Gerrard #8 of Liverpool warms up before playing the Tottenham Hotspur during a pre-season tour friendly match at M&T Bank Stadium on July 28, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The match ended in a, 0-0, draw. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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It’s poor form to start a post with an admonition, but please, don’t comment about how FIFA rankings are a joke. Of course they are! Almost nobody takes these seriously, so think about the significance of that observation. Pointing out FIFA rankings are laughable is like pointing out the U.S. men’s national team is made up of males. It’s inherent to the subject. Sure, it could change, but that’s highly unlikely.

With that in mind, take a moment to look at the list (below) and laugh at number three. Laugh until your discs bulge, because that’s the highest England’s ever been. Laugh, because they’re nowhere near that good. Laugh because these are the type of little coincidences that leads some of the soccer world to loathe England.

Laugh, and then note if it weren’t for England at number three, Portugal at five might not look so weird. Denmark, Russia, and Greece at 10 through 12? Greece?!? And all three ahead of Brazil? Yes, and Mexico’s only the 18th-best team in the world.

That we’re even asking those questions shows we’re taking this too seriously, but as much as we want to completely dismiss this order as a joke, we can’t totally write them off. For many confederations, these rankings decide seedings for draws, draws that determine the routes to regional championships and World Cups. That’s the main reason we still post them.

CONCACAF used the FIFA rankings to determine at what stage each country entered the World Cup qualifying tournament. The difference between Mexico (18) and the U.S. (36)? Insignificant. They’re first and second in the region. The difference between sixth and seventh? That’s the difference between playing in the second round of qualifying and being passed into the third.

So approach these with that kind of sad, pathetic humor that eventually descends into tears. This is the sport you follow, NationalTeamFan. But there is a big, thick, obvious silver lining: Absolutely nothing about this matters once the clocks start counting.

World Top 20:

16Côte d’Ivoire9390
19Czech Republic854-1

For more, including CONCACAF’s rankings, go to FIFA’s rankings page. Just don’t get too real about it.