Why are Belgium ranked second in the world by FIFA?

World Cup 2022 FIFA
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Belgium have endured a torrid World Cup 2022, crashing out of the tournament in the group stages with just three points.

The 2018 semi-finalists only narrowly managed to beat Canada in their opening game, before falling 2-0 to Morocco. A final-group game defeat to Croatia confirmed their elimination from the World Cup, despite them being ranked as the second-best team in the world, according to FIFA.

Indeed, between 2018 and March 2022, Belgium were actually ranked number one in the world, with Brazil taking over that place earlier in the year. They haven't dropped any further, though, despite the team clearly not being as good as the side which managed to finish third at the 2018 World Cup.

So why are they still ranked so highly by FIFA? 

Well, FIFA devised a complex system designed to determine who the best nation int the world is based on a serious of calculations. The system relies on adding points won for a game to the previous point total they had, and vice versa for lost fixtures.

The points which are added or subtracted are partially determined by the relative strength of the two opponents, including the logical expectation that teams higher in the ranking should fare better against teams lower in the ranking.

Certain games are given a greater weighting, with knockout fixtures at the World Cup understandably the most important, while friendly games are the least. 

Obviously, the result of the match determines whether a side has points added or subtracted from their existing total.

Consequently, Belgium have consistently beaten teams they were expected to beat, with their Euro 2020 quarter-final appearance also helping their performance in the rankings. 

They also went unbeaten in their qualifying campaign for World Cup 2022, giving credence as to why FIFA have Belgium ranked so highly. Indeed, their ranking is based on mathematical calculations rather than executive members subjectively deciding where they think each nation should be ranked. 

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.