For the fifth time in succession, Brazil have been crowned Team of the Year, pipping world champions Italy at the post for the top award.
Some of the hottest contenders before the FIFA World Cup™ and the revised World Ranking – the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Argentina – have all failed to capitalise on Brazil's quarter-final exit from Germany 2006 and it is Italy who have supplanted them by a hair’s breadth. Just one or two better results after the FIFA World Cup would have hoisted the Azzurri to the summit. However, a change at the top of the ranking in 2007 could still become reality, given the narrow gaps between the teams.
After gaining almost 500 extra points and leaping from twelfth into second place according to the new method of calculation, Italy well deserve the title 'Top Mover of the Year'. France and Germany have reappeared among the world’s elite in the ranking, which measures only the number of points gained over the past twelve months. Other big movers of the year include Nigeria (9th, 350 extra points) and Qatar (58th, 309 extra points).
Several associations have considerably improved their ranking compared to November: Peru (70th, up 11), Barbados (98th, up 11) and eight other teams have all managed to bounce up more than ten places.
The total of 788 international matches played this year represents the highest figure ever in a FIFA World Cup year, but still lags far behind the 1,000 plus internationals contested in both 2000 and 2004. There are still many matches waiting to be played by the end of the year, especially in Asia, to boost the final figure.
- The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 17 January 2007.