India is Rubbish at Football

Like me, you’ve probably noticed that the Republic of India is absolutely hopeless at football. They’ve never even qualified for the European Championship, let alone won it. Like me, you’ve probably also noticed that the Faroe Islands are pretty rubbish at football too. They may well have beautiful scenery, but they tend to lose a lot, and not just unlucky 1-0 away from home losses, or thrilling 6-5 goalfeasts. No, they often lose big-time, because they’re just a bunch of amateurs. To be fair to both teams, even if I was eligible to play for them, it’s highly unlikely that I’d ever be picked, because I am even worse at football than they are. But that’s somewhat beside the point.

Now – comparing the Faroe Islands to India is a little bit unfair, because, and I’m sure this is no big secret, the Faroe Islands are tiny and sparsely populated, whereas India is enormous and the 2nd most populous nation on earth. The Faroe Islands football team is officially ranked 10 places higher than India despite India having around twenty five thousand times more people living there. Not twenty five thousand people more, twenty five thousand times more. There is something clearly in the water of either the Faroe Islands, or India, or both (but in the latter case the thing in the Faroese water would be very different – and better – from the thing in the Indian water).

What about the rest of the football playing nations? What about the big guns, like Brazil? Are Brazil so great because they have so many people to choose from? Are Wales so crap because they don’t? I decided to normalise the FIFA rankings as they stood immediately post-2010 World Cup to see which countries were objectively better at football. And which countries were objectively worse. The list makes for interesting reading. Because while it’s obvious for all to see that India is indeed rubbish at football, there’s an argument to be made for the fact that the Faroe Islands is the best team in the world.

Country FIFA rank FIFA points Population FIFA points
per 10k pop.
Population per
FIFA point
1 Faroe Islands 125 196 48760 40.197 248.78
2 Liechtenstein 149 117 35904 32.587 306.87
3 Antigua and Barbuda 119 218 88000 24.773 403.67
4 Bermuda 134 160 65000 24.615 406.25
5 St. Kitts and Nevis 151 113 52000 21.731 460.18
6 Grenada 124 198 104000 19.038 525.25
7 Cook Islands 181 34 20000 17.000 588.24
8 Iceland 90 367 317900 11.545 866.21
9 Turks and Caicos Islands 184 32 33000 9.697 1031.25
10 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 163 91 109000 8.349 1197.8
11 Montenegro 64 500 624000 8.013 1248
12 British Virgin Islands 194 18 23000 7.826 1277.78
13 Cayman Islands 173 39 56000 6.964 1435.9
14 Cyprus 67 486 801851 6.061 1649.9
15 Barbados 135 155 256000 6.055 1651.61
16 Bahrain 69 475 791000 6.005 1665.26
17 Netherlands Antilles 154 103 198000 5.202 1922.33
18 New Caledonia 145 126 249000 5.060 1976.19
19 Dominica 183 33 67000 4.925 2030.3
20 Cape Verde 114 241 506000 4.763 2099.59
21 Gabon 42 700 1475000 4.746 2107.14
22 Vanuatu 153 108 240000 4.500 2222.22
23 Seychelles 178 37 84000 4.405 2270.27
24 Maldives 142 129 309000 4.175 2395.35
25 Slovenia 25 860 2060260 4.174 2395.65
26 Luxembourg 127 193 502207 3.843 2602.11
27 Northern Ireland 56 566 1788900 3.164 3160.6
28 Suriname 137 153 520000 2.942 3398.69
29 Latvia 46 652 2239800 2.911 3435.28
30 Tonga 186 28 104000 2.692 3714.29
31 Guyana 122 205 762000 2.690 3717.07
32 Uruguay 16 899 3361000 2.675 3738.6
33 Trinidad and Tobago 95 353 1339000 2.636 3793.2
34 FYR Macedonia 61 521 2048620 2.543 3932.09
35 Qatar 96 351 1409000 2.491 4014.25
36 Malta 157 100 416333 2.402 4163.33
37 Estonia 99 320 1340021 2.388 4187.57
38 Croatia 10 1041 4435056 2.347 4260.38
39 Samoa 177 38 179000 2.123 4710.53
40 Gambia 93 361 1705000 2.117 4722.99
41 Equatorial Guinea 141 142 676000 2.101 4760.56
42 Fiji 132 167 849000 1.967 5083.83
43 Lithuania 49 608 3329227 1.826 5475.7
44 Norway 22 882 4888800 1.804 5542.86
45 Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 604 3767000 1.603 6236.75
46 Republic of Ireland 41 709 4459300 1.590 6289.56
47 Costa Rica 40 710 4579000 1.551 6449.3
48 Jamaica 81 399 2719000 1.467 6814.54
49 Swaziland 131 171 1185000 1.443 6929.82
50 Slovakia 34 777 5424925 1.432 6981.89
51 Denmark 36 767 5540241 1.384 7223.26
52 Wales 77 415 2999300 1.384 7227.23
53 Scotland 43 699 5194000 1.346 7430.62
54 Panama 74 434 3322576 1.306 7655.71
55 Paraguay 31 820 6349000 1.292 7742.68
56 Oman 91 362 2845000 1.272 7859.12
57 Albania 79 406 3195000 1.271 7869.46
58 Botswana 116 236 1950000 1.210 8262.71
59 Portugal 3 1249 10636888 1.174 8516.32
60 Kuwait 97 350 2985000 1.173 8528.57
61 Namibia 111 251 2171000 1.156 8649.4
62 Solomon Islands 170 60 523000 1.147 8716.67
63 Israel 26 857 7588400 1.129 8854.61
64 Belize 179 36 322100 1.118 8947.22
65 Switzerland 24 866 7782900 1.113 8987.18
66 St. Lucia 191 19 172000 1.105 9052.63
67 Finland 52 584 5363000 1.089 9183.22
68 Tahiti 191 19 178133 1.067 9375.42
69 Moldova 89 378 3563800 1.061 9428.04
70 Aruba 198 11 107000 1.028 9727.27
71 Bahamas 181 34 342000 0.994 10058.82
72 Honduras 38 734 7466000 0.983 10171.66
73 Serbian 15 947 9850000 0.961 10401.27
74 Armenia 100 311 3238000 0.960 10411.58
75 Guam 195 17 178000 0.955 10470.59
76 Bulgaria 39 711 7576751 0.938 10656.47
77 New Zealand 78 410 4376100 0.937 10673.41
78 Greece 13 964 11306183 0.853 11728.41
79 Congo 103 308 3683000 0.836 11957.79
80 Sweden 37 761 9359742 0.813 12299.27
81 Czech Republic 33 793 10512397 0.754 13256.49
82 Netherlands 4 1231 16620225 0.741 13501.4
83 El Salvador 72 452 6163000 0.733 13634.96
84 United Arab Emirates 101 310 4599000 0.674 14835.48
85 Comoros 171 43 676000 0.636 15720.93
86 Togo 76 418 6619000 0.632 15834.93
87 Benin 60 531 8935000 0.594 16826.74
88 Austria 68 479 8372930 0.572 17480.02
89 Hungary 57 565 10013628 0.564 17723.24
90 Tunisia 55 574 10432500 0.550 18175.09
91 Brunei 189 21 388190 0.541 18485.24
92 Lesotho 152 109 2067000 0.527 18963.3
93 Chile 18 888 17093000 0.520 19248.87
94 Bolivia 65 499 9879000 0.505 19797.6
95 Belgium 59 541 10827519 0.500 20013.9
96 Georgia 120 217 4385400 0.495 20209.22
97 Ecuador 44 694 14203000 0.489 20465.42
98 Libya 102 309 6420000 0.481 20776.7
99 Jordan 104 300 6316000 0.475 21053.33
100 US Virgin Islands 199 5 110000 0.455 22000
101 Cameroon 19 887 19522000 0.454 22009.02
102 Belarus 82 397 9471900 0.419 23858.69
103 Côte d’Ivoire 27 856 21075000 0.406 24620.33
104 Romania 28 853 21466174 0.397 25165.5
105 Mali 54 575 14517176 0.396 25247.26
106 Australia 20 886 22400221 0.396 25282.42
107 Burkina Faso 48 611 15757000 0.388 25788.87
108 Singapore 127 193 4987600 0.387 25842.49
109 Guinea 87 381 10069000 0.378 26427.82
110 Haiti 91 362 10033000 0.361 27715.47
111 Zambia 71 456 12935000 0.353 28366.23
112 Senegal 75 422 12534000 0.337 29701.42
113 Ghana 32 800 23837000 0.336 29796.25
114 Spain 2 1565 46951532 0.333 30000.98
115 Liberia 150 114 3476608 0.328 30496.56
116 Sierra Leone 130 181 5696000 0.318 31469.61
117 Mauritius 172 40 1288000 0.311 32200
118 Turkmenistan 139 151 5110000 0.295 33841.06
119 Azerbaijan 109 259 8922300 0.290 34449.03
120 Rwanda 107 269 9998000 0.269 37167.29
121 Argentina 7 1076 40134425 0.268 37299.65
122 Djibouti 188 23 864000 0.266 37565.22
123 Macau 197 14 542200 0.258 38728.57
124 Malawi 86 382 15263000 0.250 39955.5
125 Mauritania 164 81 3291000 0.246 40629.63
126 Andorra 201 2 84082 0.238 42041
127 Algeria 30 821 34895000 0.235 42503.05
128 Lebanon 160 98 4224000 0.232 43102.04
129 Tajikistan 135 155 6952000 0.223 44851.61
130 Bhutan 196 15 697000 0.215 46466.67
131 Hong Kong 140 150 7026400 0.213 46842.67
132 Venezuela 49 608 28831000 0.211 47419.41
133 England 8 1068 51809700 0.206 48510.96
134 Zimbabwe 110 258 12523000 0.206 48538.76
135 Angola 88 379 18498000 0.205 48807.39
136 Eritrea 155 101 5073000 0.199 50227.72
137 Peru 53 578 29132013 0.198 50401.41
138 Italy 5 1184 60340328 0.196 50963.11
139 Saudi Arabia 66 498 25721000 0.194 51648.59
140 Puerto Rico 166 76 3982000 0.191 52394.74
141 Ukraine 23 875 45962900 0.190 52529.03
142 Mozambique 85 383 21350080 0.179 55744.33
143 Nicaragua 155 101 5743000 0.176 56861.39
144 Cuba 126 194 11204000 0.173 57752.58
145 Guatemala 114 241 14027000 0.172 58203.32
146 Colombia 35 776 45503000 0.171 58637.89
147 France 9 1044 65447374 0.160 62689.06
148 Syria 98 343 21906000 0.157 63865.89
149 Burundi 144 127 8303000 0.153 65377.95
150 Canada 63 516 34154000 0.151 66189.92
151 Poland 58 561 38167329 0.147 68034.45
152 Morocco 70 463 31849000 0.145 68788.34
153 Kyrgyzstan 168 74 5482000 0.135 74081.08
154 Uganda 73 440 32710000 0.135 74340.91
155 Germany 6 1082 81757600 0.132 75561.55
156 Iraq 80 405 30747000 0.132 75918.52
157 Mongolia 179 36 2762600 0.130 76738.89
158 Uzbekistan 94 354 27488000 0.129 77649.72
159 Korea Republic (S) 47 632 49773145 0.127 78754.98
160 Egypt 12 967 78645000 0.123 81328.85
161 Korea DPR (N) 105 285 24051706 0.118 84391.95
162 Guinea-Bissau 191 19 1611000 0.118 84789.47
163 Kazakhstan 129 183 15776492 0.116 86210.34
164 Turkey 29 830 72561312 0.114 87423.27
165 Chad 143 128 11274106 0.114 88078.95
166 Yemen 112 248 23580000 0.105 95080.65
167 Palestine 173 39 3935249 0.099 100903.82
168 Brazil 1 1611 193141000 0.083 119888.89
169 Mexico 17 895 107550697 0.083 120168.38
170 South Africa 83 392 49320500 0.079 125817.6
171 Russia 11 1015 141927297 0.072 139829.85
172 Iran 61 521 74196000 0.070 142410.75
173 Laos 173 39 6320000 0.062 162051.28
174 Madagascar 148 121 19625000 0.062 162190.08
175 Kenya 113 243 39802000 0.061 163794.24
176 Niger 162 92 15290000 0.060 166195.65
177 Tanzania 108 261 43739000 0.060 167582.38
178 Nigeria 21 883 154729000 0.057 175231.03
179 Sudan 118 219 39154490 0.056 178787.63
180 Japan 45 682 127360000 0.054 186744.87
181 Sri Lanka 159 99 20238000 0.049 204424.24
182 Malaysia 146 123 28306700 0.043 230135.77
183 Thailand 106 276 63525062 0.043 230163.27
184 Somalia 173 39 9133000 0.043 234179.49
185 Timor Este 200 4 1134000 0.035 283500
186 Nepal 161 96 29331000 0.033 305531.25
187 Congo DR 121 215 66020000 0.033 307069.77
188 Chinese Taipei 167 75 23131093 0.032 308414.57
189 USA 14 957 309605000 0.031 323516.2
190 Vietnam 117 231 85789573 0.027 371383.43
191 Dominican Republic 187 26 10090000 0.026 388076.92
192 Ethiopia 123 200 79221000 0.025 396105
193 Myanmar (Burma) 147 122 50020000 0.024 410000
194 Cambodia 185 30 14805000 0.020 493500
195 Afghanistan 189 21 28150000 0.007 1340476.19
196 Philippines 169 67 92226600 0.007 1376516.42
197 Indonesia 137 153 231369500 0.007 1512218.95
198 Bangladesh 157 100 162221000 0.006 1622210
199 Pakistan 165 78 169869000 0.005 2177807.69
200 China PR 84 387 1338330000 0.003 3458217.05
201 India 133 163 1182698000 0.001 7255815.95
202 Montserrat 202 0 5900 0.000
202 Anguilla 202 0 15000 0.000
202 San Marino 202 0 32386 0.000
202 American Samoa 202 0 67000 0.000
202 Central African Republic 202 0 4422000 0.000
202 Papua New Guinea 202 0 6732000 0.000

colour key:
New rank is higher than official FIFA rank: a relatively better team than people realise
New rank is lower than official FIFA rank: a relatively worse team than people realise

So – it only takes 248 Faroese men, women and children to rustle up a single FIFA point. In contrast, over in South America, with Brazil languishing down in 168th place the behind mighty Yemen, Chad and Palestine, that one FIFA point requires the combined efforts of nearly 120,000 Brazilians! Sounds like hard work. But the real losers here are undoubtedly the Papua New Guineans. Almost 7 million inhabitants, and they simply can’t be bothered to collect even that one point. How truly contemptible.

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