CONCACAF Launches New Ranking Index

CONCACAF has launched a new ranking index that will serve as a constantly up-to-date ranking system for national teams in North and Central America and the Caribbean, as they compete in the on-going Nations League, the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and other international competitions. 

The new ranking tool will update with each match result, and will play a key role in determining qualification for important regional and international championships going forward.

The ranking establishes a classification that orders CONCACAF’s national teams from 1-41. Additionally, the CONCACAF Ranking Index makes it possible to calculate the probabilities of different match results (a win, a draw, or a loss) for all matches in the near future. 

Based on the results of all official and friendly matches played by national teams from each of the Confederation’s Member Associations, the statistics-based algorithm takes into consideration historical data from 1990 to present day. To best reflect the current competitive strength of each side, matches played throughout the last four-year cycle (2014-18) carry more weight than those that span further back in the calendar. 

The rankings outcome of each match depends on three main factors:

  1. The playing strength of the teams competing,
  2. The home-field advantage,
  3. The actual match performance or final result of the match. 

The CONCACAF Ranking Index measures teams on final results and strength of their opponent.  Official matches have more weight than friendlies.  Matches played in final stages of competitions such as the FIFA World Cup, the Gold Cup or Nations League also have a greater weight.

Based on the initial results of this system, which are now public, the draw for the CONCACAF Nations League Qualifiers– to be contested during four official FIFA match windows in September, October and November 2018 and March 2019 – will be executed.

The first edition of the CONCACAF Ranking Index reveals that the 34 national teams set to participate in CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying draw on March 7, are ranked as follows:

Ranking Procedure

The CONCACAF National Team Ranking is a ranking of all 41 Member Associations of CONCACAF. It is based on historical and actual results in all competitive and friendly matches. The ranking was developed by CONCACAF in close cooperation with Hypercube, a company also responsible for important football ratings Euro Club Index and UEFA National Team Coefficient. 

The ranking of a team creates an expectation of its match results. If a team performs better than expected it will gain points, if a team performs worse than expected it will lose points.

A team’s total number of points at any given date is determined by adding:

  • The start ranking of July 1, 1990
  • All points gained and lost in matches played since then

The system is proven to be stable, as every new ranking creates a reliable expectation for the next match, and recent results have a much higher impact on the ranking than results from long ago.

Calculation of points for a single match

The number of points (P) gained or lost in a match depends on the following factors:

  • The actual result of the game (R)
  • The expected result of the game (E)
  • The importance of the match (K)

The number of points added to the ranking is calculated with the following formula:

P = K * (R – E)

Thus a team will gain points if the result is better than expected and lose points if the result is worse than expected. The points gained by a team in a match are equal to the points lost by its opponent (zero-sum system).

Criteria for the calculation:

R: Match Result

This has the value of 1 for a win, 0 for a draw and -1 for a loss.

E: Expected Result

The odds of a match are based on the ranking difference between the two teams and the home advantage. These odds are calculated with a formula or looked up in a table. For opponents outside of CONCACAF an assigned ranking is used.

P(win) is the probability of a win and P(loss) is the probability of a loss, both are numbers between 0 and 1. Now E = P(win) – P(loss) is a number between -1 and +1. If the match is completely balanced, the expected result is 0. The bigger the surprise, the more points are transferred.

K: Match Importance

  • Friendly matches: 17.5
  • Official CONCACAF and CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches: 35
  • FIFA World Cup matches: 50