Italy ranked No. 2 in FIFA poll; U.S. drops to No. 16
Posted: Wednesday July 12, 2006 9:06AM; Updated: Wednesday July 12, 2006 9:08AM
ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) -- Brazil remained No. 1 on Wednesday in FIFA's redesigned world soccer rankings, with World Cup champion Italy moving up to No. 2. The United States dropped from fifth to 16th.
Under the new ranking system, which changes the criteria for rating the world's top teams, Argentina moved into third place with France No. 4 and England No. 5.
Except for Brazil, the other top teams all moved up several places from the rankings published before the World Cup. Italy improved 10 places, Argentina six, France four and England five.
Rounding out the top 10 were: the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Czech Republic.
The new system takes into account games played over the last four years instead of the last eight. It also changes the weighting system, with more importance given to World Cup games vs. exhibitions. Regional strength also is considered, as are opponents, goals scored and conceded, and home or away venues.
The U.S. and Mexico were two of the biggest losers.
The United States, knocked out in the first round of the World Cup, dropped 11 places. Mexico, which reached the second round, fell from No. 4 to 18.
The United States reached No. 4 in FIFA's April rankings, which drew attention to the inequity in FIFA's old ranking system. Both teams play in CONCACAF -- the North American and Caribbean region -- which is one of world soccer's weakest areas.
Making up the second 10 in the rankings were: Nigeria, Cameroon, Switzerland, Uruguay, Ukraine, United States, Denmark, Mexico, Paraguay and Ivory Coast.
Germany, which finished third in the World Cup and was the host nation, moved up 10 spots from 19 to No. 9. Germany's ranking suffered under the old system because, as host nation, it played no qualifying games.
Ukraine was another big mover, jumping 30 places to 15 thanks to its quarterfinal appearance. Ghana, which reached the second round, also took a big jump, going from 48 to 25.