England fourth best in world?

First published in Sport

FIFA have defended their rankings which has placed England fourth in the world and Brazil 11th, but admitted the system may sometimes appear to be "not logical".

England rose two places after their Euro 2012 campaign with only Spain, Germany and Uruguay ahead of them, but are expected to rise to a highest-ever spot of third next month.

Euro 2012 finalists Italy, who beat England in the quarter-finals, are sixth while Brazil have dropped from fifth to 11th - as 2014 World Cup hosts they do not play any competitive qualifiers so do not gain as many ranking points.

The rankings are important because they determine if teams will be seeded in the draw for the next World Cup.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke told the Press Association: "I know that these rankings are sometimes quite difficult to understand due to the level and numbers of criteria that are taken into account.

"There are teams who are playing more friendly games than other teams and you can see a difference which is not very logical, but the ranking I would say is clearly still a good picture of the level of international football.

"Brazil are not playing official games, just friendly games as they are already qualified.

"There have been internal meetings and also with the football committee to discuss the ranking of the different nations. We want to be able to explain in an easier way how this ranking is based."

FIFA's rankings are based on an international side's results over the previous four years, with more points awarded from competitive matches than qualifiers, and weighted even more strongly towards matches in the final tournaments of World Cups and continental tournaments such as European Championships.

Meanwhile, Britain's FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce says the organisation should consider playing World Cup matches late at night at the 2022 tournament in Qatar in order to avoid the extreme heat.

Temperatures in the day in Qatar can reach 50 degrees Celsius and in nearby Dubai this summer Australia will play three cricket one-day games against Pakistan that could finish as late as 1.45am.

A 10pm kick-off time for football in Qatar would be 8pm in England and Boyce said that could help with the heat - and be good for television.

It would mean that if a World Cup match went into extra time and penalties it would finish well after midnight.

Boyce, from Northern Ireland, told the Press Association: "The FIFA executive committee decided, before my time, that the tournament is going to be held in Qatar and anything should be considered to try to alleviate the severe heat conditions.

"We have heard that there is an intention to provide air conditioning in the stadiums but we should also look at anything that will improve spectator comfort and player comfort.

"People cannot play in 50 degree heat so if that's to be one of the compromises then that's something we will have to look at.

"It might also be an advantage in terms of making it compatible with a worldwide television audience."

Both UEFA president Michel Platini and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer have called for the 2022 World Cup to be played in January instead because of the heat.

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