World Football Elo Ratings
The World Football Elo Ratings is a ranking system for men's national association football teams that is published by the website eloratings.net. It is based on the Elo rating system but includes modifications to take various football-specific variables into account, like the margin of victory, importance of a match, and home field advantage. Other implementations of the Elo rating system are possible and there is no single nor any official Elo ranking for football teams.
Since being developed, the Elo rankings have been found to have the highest predictive capability for football matches. FIFA's official rankings, both the FIFA World Rankings for men and the FIFA Women's World Rankings are based on a modified version of the Elo formula, the men's rankings having switched away from FIFA's own system for matches played since June 2018.
Each national team's FIFA World Ranking is shown as per the latest release on 28 November 2019.
- Guatemala is ranked much lower in the FIFA Ranking because they were inactive from September 2016 to August 2018 due to their suspension from FIFA. While this caused their FIFA Ranking to fall dramatically under the former system, their Elo rating remained the same.
- Northern Cyprus is not a member of FIFA and is not included in the FIFA Rankings. Also, the team has played only 17 matches against other Elo-ranked teams, so its Elo rating is provisional.
- Martinique are also not members of FIFA, so are not included in the FIFA Rankings.
- Iraqi Kurdistan is not a member of FIFA and is not included in the FIFA Rankings. Also, the team has played only 4 matches against other Elo-ranked teams, so its Elo rating is provisional.
List of number-one teams
- Number-one position reached at / after first match
Ranking by matches played as leader
|315||8,496||12 Jun 1958||15 Nov 2019|
|154||10,605||30 Nov 1872||11 Jun 1988|
|139||4,704||25 Jul 1966||9 Nov 2017|
|123||9,165||20 Jul 1902||9 Nov 2016|
|78||2,869||28 Aug 1920||11 Oct 2013|
|73||2,022||12 Sep 1984||10 Oct 2018|
|57||1,897||20 Sep 1952||12 Mar 1960|
|42||5,966||4 Mar 1876||19 Oct 1926|
|41||2,694||7 Jun 1934||15 Aug 2006|
|41||1,367||21 Mar 1963||24 Jun 1988|
|37||1,794||29 Aug 1920||15 Jun 1929|
|32||1,039||1 Jun 1978||3 Jul 2014|
|6||676||5 Jun 1914||7 Oct 1916|
|3||11||27 May 1934||6 Jun 1934|
|2||8||27 Jun 2004||7 Jun 2005|
|1||31||16 Nov 2019||current|
- Number of games played (started) with the highest Elo rating amongst nations
- Days spent as co-leaders are counted as a ½ day
- Combined record of the Germany (1908–1950 & 1990–present) and West Germany (1950–1990) national football teams.
- So far, only the Soviet Union national football team (1924–1992) has reached the #1 position, but any future efforts by the Russia national football team (1992–present) will be included.
All-time team highs and lows
The following is a list of national football teams ranked by the highest Elo rating they ever reached. The table also includes the highest ranking as well as the lowest rating and ranking reached by each nation. The team that has achieved the highest rank in each confederation is shown in color.
- The ranking in parentheses is that at the time the highest rating was reached.
- The date given is when the highest or lowest rating was first reached.
- The team's indicated lowest ratings and rank may not have coincided in time.
- at present as Russia
- at present as Serbia
- Formally, Switzerland reached a low of 1485 after its second match, in March 1908.
- The combined Ireland national football team was in 4th place from its first match in 1882 to 1902, in a period that only 4 teams were in the rankings. It reached a low ratings of 1237 on 29 March 1890.
- Wales was in 3rd place from its first match in 1876 to 1902, in a period that only 3 to 4 teams were in the rankings.
- On 1 January 2006, Football Federation Australia moved from the OFC to the AFC
- Algeria's highest ranking and ratings were reached after the first 5 and 8 matches, respectively.
- Cameroon possibly reached a lower ratings after their 4th or 5th match, sometimes in 1956.
- South Africa had only played 1 match when reaching its highest ratings and ranking.
- at present as DR Congo
- Slovakia was ranked highest (17th) for their first six matches.
- Finland reached its highest ranking (14th) after 4 games, following wins over Italy and Russia in the 1912 Olympic Games.
Time averaged Elo or Elo-like scores are routinely used to compare chess player strengths.
Highest average ratings since 1970
This table is a list of the national teams with the highest average Elo score since 1 January 1970, i.e. over approximately the last half century. Before this time intercontinental play was fairly limited and many nations in Africa, North America, and Asia had played too few games yet to create a representative Elo score. Only those teams are displayed that started playing before 1970 and played the entire period without a 5 year or longer interruption. Some excluded strong national football teams, like East-Germany and Croatia, appear in the decades tables below.
- Representing West Germany from 1949 to 1990
- Combined record of the USSR (1970-1992), the CIS (1992), and Russia national football teams (1992-present)
- Combined record of the Czechoslovakian (1970-1992) and Czech national football teams (1993-present)
- Combined record of Yugoslavia (1970-1992), Serbia and Montenegro (1994-2006) and Serbia national football teams (2006-present)
Averages by decade
The tables below shows the teams with the best average Elo score per decade (1 Jan XXX0 - 31 Dec XXX9). Only those teams are displayed that had played before the start of the decade and played at least ten games in the decade.
- Includes the record of the Great Britain Olympic football team in the 1908, 1912 and 1920 Olympics
- First game played on 15 May 1910
- First game played on 27 May 1910
- In the 1940s, most national teams did not play games until after the end of World War II, making comparison of countries for this decade weak.
- Average over the period from 2 April 1940 to 8 April 1945
- Combined record of Yugoslavia (1990–1992) and FR of Yugoslavia (1994–1999)
- Combined record of Czechoslovakia (1990–1992) and Czech national football teams (1993–1999)
- Combined record of the USSR (1990–1992), the CIS (1992), and Russia national football teams (1992–1999)
- 2010s averages up to 24 June 2019
Highest average over entire team history
The eloratings.net website presents the average ratings since the first international match of each team. Such averages can not really be compared to each other, as they represent strengths over different periods and in different pools. For example, they represent 147 years of matches for Scotland (34 years of which in a pool of 3 or 4 British nations only), 99 years for Spain, 27 years for Ukraine, and 12 years for Montenegro. For Croatia and Slovakia the average is dominated by the single rating during the 50 years between the few games played between 1940 and 1943 and the rebirth of the countries in the 1990s. Likewise, South Africa's average is mostly determined by the 44 matches (of a 417 total in 2018) played in the 86 years before it rejoined FIFA in 1992.
Highest rated matches
A list of the 25 matches between teams with the highest combined Elo ratings (the nations' points before the matches are given).
|Nation 1||Elo 1||Nation 2||Elo 2||Score||Date||Occasion||Location|
|1||4287||2203||2084||1–0 aet||2014-07-13||World Cup Final|
|3||4278||2230||2048||2–3||1954-07-04||World Cup Final|
|4||4263||2136||2127||1–0 aet||2010-07-11||World Cup Final|
|5||4245||2184||2061||4–2||1912-07-04||Olympic Games Final|
|6||4242||2120||2122||1–7||2014-07-08||World Cup SF|
|8||4236||2086||2150||3–0||2013-06-30||Confederations Cup Final|
|9||4224||2208||2016||4–2||1954-06-30||World Cup SF|
|11||4218||2180||2038||4–2||1954-06-27||World Cup QF|
|12||4207||2077||2130||2–1||2010-07-02||World Cup QF|
|16||4197||2123||2074||2–1||1974-07-07||World Cup Final|
|17||4191||2166||2025||3–1||1962-06-17||World Cup Final|
|19||4187||2132||2055||4–1||1970-06-21||World Cup Final|
|20||4179||2110||2069||1–0||2010-07-07||World Cup SF|
|2096||2083||0–0||2014-07-09||World Cup SF|
|24||4172||2104||2068||1–0||1974-07-03||World Cup 2nd round|
This is a list of matches with the biggest point exchange. Since the importance of the match, the goal differential and the perceived home team advantage are factored in the exchange, these are not necessarily the most surprising wins as expressed by the difference in Elo rating.
The nations' points before the matches are given.
|Nation 1||Elo 1||Nation 2||Elo 2||Score||Date||Occasion||Location|
|7||83||1171||1523||4–0||1980-02-23||OFC Nations Cup|
|1888||1788||0–5||2009-07-26||CONCACAF Gold Cup|
|25||73||511||758||7–0||2012-09-09||Caribbean Cup qualifier|
*The initial ratings may be partially responsible for the high point exchange. The national teams of China, Egypt, Russia, and South Korea had played only 18, 3, 2, and 18 international matches before their respective upsets. China had only yet played against East Asian teams.
Elo Ratings before each World Championship
History and overview
The Elo system, developed by Hungarian-American mathematician Árpád Élő, is used by FIDE, the international chess federation, to rate chess players, and by the European Go Federation, to rate Go players. In 1997, Bob Runyan adapted the Elo rating system to international football and posted the results on the Internet. He was also the first maintainer of the World Football Elo Ratings web site, currently maintained by Kirill Bulygin. Other implementations of the Elo rating system are possible but the Runyan system is the best known.
The Elo system was adapted for football by adding a weighting for the kind of match, an adjustment for the home team advantage, and an adjustment for goal difference in the match result.
The factors taken into consideration when calculating a team's new rating are:
- The team's old rating
- The considered weight of the tournament
- The goal difference of the match
- The result of the match
- The expected result of the match
The different weights of competitions in descending order are:
- World Cup Finals
- Continental championships finals and Intercontinental tournaments
- World Cup and Continental championship qualifiers
- All other tournaments
- Friendly matches
The ratings consider all official international matches for which results are available. Ratings tend to converge on a team's true strength relative to its competitors after about 30 matches. Ratings for teams with fewer than 30 matches are considered provisional.
Comparison with other systems
A 2009 comparative study of eight methods found that the implementation of the Elo rating system described below had the highest predictive capability for football matches, while the men's FIFA ranking method (2006–2018 system) performed poorly.
The FIFA World Rankings is the official national teams rating system used by the international governing body of football. The FIFA Women's World Rankings system has used a modified version of the Elo formula since 2003. In June 2018, the FIFA ranking switched to an Elo-based ranking as well, starting from the current FIFA rating points. The major difference between the World Football Elo Rating and the new men's FIFA rating system is that the latter does not consider goal differential and counts a penalty shoot-out as a win/loss rather than a draw; thus, a 7:0 blowout is considered equal to a 7:6 penalty shoot-out win (neither method distinguishes a win in extra time from a win in regular time). The FIFA method is also less sensitive to the difference in ratings and more sensitive to match status. Finally, World Football Elo Ratings considers all official international matches for which results are available, including those involving "unaffiliated" teams that are not a member of FIFA.
The ratings are based on the following formulae:
|= The new team rating|
|= The old team rating|
|= Weight index regarding the tournament of the match|
|= A number from the index of goal differences|
|= The result of the match|
|= The expected result|
|= Points Change|
"Points Change" is rounded to the nearest integer before updating the team rating.
Status of match
The status of the match is incorporated by the use of a weight constant. The constant reflects the importance of a match, which, in turn, is determined entirely by which tournament the match is in; the weight constant for each major tournament is:
|Tournament or Match type||K|
|World Cup, Olympic Games (1908–1980)||60|
|Continental championship and intercontinental tournaments||50|
|World Cup and Continental qualifiers and major tournaments||40|
|All other tournaments||30|
Number of goals
The number of goals is taken into account by use of a goal difference index.
If the game is a draw or is won by one goal
If the game is won by two goals
If the game is won by three or more goals:
- Where N is the goal difference ( N ≥ 3)
Table of examples:
Result of match
W is the result of the game (1 for a win, 0.5 for a draw, and 0 for a loss). This also holds when a game is won or lost on extra time. If the match is decided on penalties, however, the result of the game is considered a draw (W = 0.5).
Expected result of match
We is the expected result (win expectancy with a draw counting as 0.5) from the following formula:
where dr equals the difference in ratings (add 100 points for the home team). So dr of 0 gives 0.5, of 120 gives 0.666 to the higher-ranked team and 0.334 to the lower, and of 800 gives 0.99 to the higher-ranked team and 0.01 to the lower.
The FIFA adaptation of the Elo rating does not incorporate a home team advantage and has a larger divisor in the formula (600 vs 400), making the points exchange less sensitive to the rating difference of two teams.
Examples for clarification
The same example of a three-team friendly tournament on neutral territory is used as on the FIFA World Rankings page. Beforehand team A had a rating of 630 points, team B 500 points, and teams C 480 points.
The first table shows the points allocations based on three possible outcomes of the match between the strongest team A, and the somewhat weaker team B:
|Team A||Team B||Team A||Team B||Team A||Team B|
|Score||3 : 1||1 : 3||2 : 2|
When the difference in strength between the two teams is less, so also will be the difference in points allocation. The next table illustrates how the points would be divided following the same results as above, but with two roughly equally ranked teams, B and C, being involved:
|Team B||Team C||Team B||Team C||Team B||Team C|
Team B drops more points by losing to Team C, which has shown about the same strength, than by losing to Team A, which has been considerably better than Team B.
- The Israel Football Association was a member of the AFC from 1954 until 1974. In 1992, the IFA was admitted to UEFA as an associate member
- In those terms, most surprising may have been the 2:1 win of Luxembourg (Elo rating 1036) over Switzerland (ER 1794) in a World Cup qualification match in September 2008 (a 758 point difference). In another World Cup qualifier in October 2004 Liechtenstein (ER 1049) held the 853 points higher rated Portuguese team (ER 1902) to a 2:2 draw.
- J. Lasek, Z. Szlávik and S. Bhulai (2013), The predictive power of ranking systems in association football, Int. J. Applied Pattern Recognition1: 27-46.
- "2026 FIFA World Cup™: FIFA Council designates bids for final voting by the FIFA Congress". fifa.com. FIFA. 10 June 2018. Retrieved 2 July 2018.
- "World Football Elo Ratings". Elo ratings. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
- "FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking" (Press release). FIFA. 28 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2019.
- Graph of rankings at eloratings.net. Yearly graphs, like this one for 2018, give enough resolution. For individual dates, the Elo ratings table is also a good source.
- "History of the Football Union of Russia". Rfs.ru. Retrieved 4 June 2016.
- World Football Elo Ratings; under the columns tab choose "Highest Rank / Rating" as well as "Lowest Rank / Rating"
- Arpad E. Elo, The Rating of Chessplayers, Past and Present, Arco, 1978. ISBN 0-668-04721-6.
- Arpad Elo, Chess Life, 1962.
- About the Chessmetrics Rating System, by Jeff Sonas
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1970 to June 29th 2019" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1910 to December 31st 1919" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1920 to December 31st 1929" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1930 to December 31st 1939" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1940 to December 31st 1949" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1950 to December 31st 1959" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1960 to December 31st 1969" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1970 to December 31st 1979" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1980 to December 31st 1989" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 1990 to December 31st 1999" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 2000 to December 31st 2009" at international-football.net
- "Average Elo ratings from January 1st 2010 to June 24th 2019" at international-football.net
- Upsets at eloratings.net (per June 2018 this page is under reconstruction)
- As the Great Britain national amateur team
- Starting Ratings 1930 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1934 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1938 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1950 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1954 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1958 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1962 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1966 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1970 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1974 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1978 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1982 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1986 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1990 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1994 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 1998 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 2002 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 2006 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 2010 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Starting Ratings 2014 World Cup at eloratings.net
- Lyons, Kieth. "What are the World Football Elo Ratings?". The Conversation. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
- "The World Football Elo Rating System". Eloratings.net. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
- FIFA Council, 2026 FIFA World Cup™: FIFA Council designates bids for final voting by the FIFA Congress, 10 Jun 2018
- FIFA council, Revision of the FIFA / Coca-Cola World Ranking