After the World’s Top Goalscorer of 2007, the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics) has done the impossible: make yet another controversial ranking, and make some more thousand-something fans pissed off about it.
This time, it’s the All-Time Club Rankings.
So where’s the catch? They’re considering only results starting in 1991. Huh? WTF right? Here’s their explanation:
An All-time Club World Ranking can only be meaningful and useful if it can be determined by taking account all the results of the national championships, the national cup competitions, the club competitions of the six continental confederations and the FIFA. It is therefore only possible to determine an All-time Club World Ranking from January 1st, 1991 — when the Club World Ranking began taking all these details into consideration.
The period from 1872 to 1990 can only be asssessed subjectively, mostly by using national and international champions as a guide. It follows that teams placed in the individual competitions cannot be taken into consideration, even if their titles were won easily or in spite of many defeats. It is simply not possible to establish a basis for giving all participating clubs an equal opportunity for the period 1872 to 1990.
The IFFHS has therefore has decided, logically, that the All-time Club World Ranking should be determined from January 1st, 1991 using the annual Club World Ranking (the situation at 31st December annually). For this it will take into consideration the “Top 50 Clubs”, annually and award them points from 50 points for the top club down to 1 point for the club in 50th place. Adding the points from the individual years for each club will provide the All-time Club World Ranking.
So there goes.
The result? The “lucky winner” of the IFFHS All-Time Club Ranking is FC Barcelona with 670 points, who in the period from 1991 to 2007 won 8 La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Rey, 6 Supercopa de España, 2 Champions League, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup, and 2 European Super Cups. Completing the top trio, we find Juventus (7 [minus 2] Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia, 4 Supercoppa Italiana, 1 Champions League, 1 UEFA Cup, 1 Intertoto Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup) and Manchester Utd (9 EPL titles, 4 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 6 Charity Shields, 1 Champions League, 1 Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 European Super Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup).
One of the funny things about this year’s All-Time Ranking is that compared to 2006, AC Milan has actually dropped by 2 ranks to 5th spot (behind Real Madrid). Yeah, the same AC Milan which won the UEFA Champions League in May, the European SuperCup in September and the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of the year. Man Utd and Real Madrid did win their respective national titles, but still weird I find.
Completing the Top 10 right behind AC Milan, we find Bayern Munich (6th), Inter Milan (7th), River Plate (8th), Arsenal (9th), and Porto (10th). Further down the list, Italian club Parma is incredibly ranked 12th, right behind Ajax Amsterdam and their huge cup gallery, but in front of clubs like Chelsea and Liverpool (13th and 14th). Huh? How did that happen?
By now most of you are probably screaming for murder, so in defense of the IFFHS ranking, let me just mention that it does accurately reflect the top world leagues of the past two decades, at least in terms of total number of clubs present. In the 191 ranked clubs, the Spanish Liga and Italian Serie A are the biggest providers, totalling 17 teams each. They are followed by the English Premier League (15), the Campeonato Brasileiro (15), the German Bundesliga (12), and the French Ligue 1 (12). Argentina totals 11 clubs and caps the ‘Big 7’ according to this ranking. Much further down the list are the Belgian, Czech and Dutch leagues (6).
In the end, despite IFFHS’s explanation for their selection criteria (see above), such a ranking is a fairly poor representation of an “All-Time” statistic. By only counting club history from 1991 onwards, IFFHS should effectively have forfeited the right to use “All-time” in their ranking terminology. Nevertheless what you are looking at here, should more or less accurately reflect the teams who have dominated the world of football from 1991 to 2007. That at least, we can admit.
For comparison, the UEFA ranking (last updated to May 25, 2007 i.e. before the Rossoneri European SuperCup and Club World Cup triumphs) puts AC Milan at nº1, followed by Barcelona, Liverpool, and Inter. Quoting Gazzetta dello Sport, the IFFHS “would be a much more respected institute if it took into consideration the entire world of football. That is, starting from the time someone in England had the great idea of inventing the sport. It was the year 1872″.
Marco Pantanella writes for the mCalcio blog
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