The World Ranking is a joke

Studio Hockey
Studio Hockey
The World Ranking is a joke

Let’s start by congratulating Belgium for their amazing progress resulting in a well earned silver at the Rio Games in 2016 and a first gold medal at the most recent World Cup. The secret to their success is a simple formula : a stronger domestic league + an ambitious long term plan/vision not just on paper but well executed + patience and a lot of hard work for many years = gold and a 1st place on the global ranking ! Mind you, the simple formula is not a guarantee but it will offer you a fighting chance to make the dream come true.

But let’s talk about this global ranking by the FIH. Rumours are it will change one of these days, as it should with all of the disappearing and new events for 2019 and beyond. Think FIH Pro League replacing the Champions Trophy and the FIH Hockey Series replacing the Hockey World League.
Immediately after the World Cup a new global ranking was made public where Belgium moved to first place. Well deserved… But take a closer look and you will see several strange things. Points being awarded for invitational events, excluding other often deserving nations. Points being awarded, lots of points for continental championships where it’s almost impossible to balance the difference in strength between all continents…
For example, the Netherlands finished 2nd at this world cup for a silver medal after qualifying for this tournament in an event where they had to win among 6 of the current top 10 nations. For this they get 650 points. Compare this to 630 points awarded to New Zealand for beating Papua New Guinea in their continental championships. Papua New Guinea barely makes the top 50 on this ranking.Or let’s look at Australia winning bronze at this World Cup, earning 550 points for a medal at this level is worth the same as for example Canada beating the USA or Brazil in their continentals…

There is only one word to describe this : unfair !
Not exactly what you would expect or want as the description for a global ranking of an Olympic sport… I’m not even going to elaborate on the issues with countries who earned their spot in a major FIH event but get ruled out because the host nation, usually India, took their spot, even when they did not qualify for the event. Resulting in some free undeserved ranking points for one nation at the expense of another.

Anyway… rumour has it the FIH will soon launch a new global ranking. I hope it will be fair ranking with respect for the true sport values.

Allow me to propose a possible system, just in case the FIH is still thinking on it. I’m not sure this is a perfect system either but at least it will be more fair on all hockey playing nations.
I would propose a system where all games played in a recognised official title or qualifying event will earn the teams points upon result. So no points from friendly games, nor from test series even when recognised as official games by the FIH.
Points will be given for games played during the Olympic Games and the World Cup because these are the two major events in the world of hockey. As well as those games in official and recognised events meant for qualification for either the Olympic Games or the World Cup, such as the FIH Hockey Series or the FIH Pro League, the continental championships (including their qualifiers) and the Olympic or World Cup Qualifiers.
The points system should be very simple and straight forward :

  • a win earns you 10 points + 5 extra points if the team you just beat is ranked above you
  • a loss is zero points
  • a draw earns 2 points + 1 extra point if the other team is ranked above you

For performing well in the two major events , the Games and the World Cup, bonus points on top of these game points can be earned:

  • gold = +100 points
  • silver = + 80 points
  • bronze = + 60 points
  • 4th (semi finalist) = +40 points
  • losing quarter finalists all get +20 points
  • participation but not making the quarter finals = +10 points

I’ll leave it to the FIH or those who want to give it a go to do the math based upon these criteria to start 2019 with a freshly renewed and fair ranking based upon all games and events played after the world cup from 2014. I do think we might see some surprises if we play fair…

But anyway… until the FIH launches their renewed ranking, most likely before he start of the new FIH Pro League in January of 2019,  we will have to be patient… hoping we will get a fair ranking one way or the other !