Soccer: Quirky FIFA rankings system sees Israel climb to #15

Amazingly, the national team is ahead of Greece, Nigeria, Sweden, Scotland, Denmark and Ireland.

fifa 88 (photo credit: )
fifa 88
(photo credit: )
Israel continued its baffling rise up the FIFA rankings on Wednesday, climbing one more position to a best-ever 15th in the world. Amazingly, the national team, which hasn't reached a major tournament since the 1970 World Cup, is ahead of such teams as Greece (18), Nigeria (22), Sweden (29), Scotland (33), Denmark (34) and the Republic of Ireland (36). The star-studded Ivory Coast, which will face Israel in a friendly at National Stadium in Ramat Gan next Wednesday, is ranked just 28th in the world. European champion Spain continued its reign as world's top-ranked national team. Germany, which lost the Euro 2008 final to Spain, climbed one place to second, while England returned to the world's top 10. World champion Italy dropped a place to third and the Netherlands rose one to fourth. Brazil remained the best South American nation despite falling to fifth while Argentina moved up a place to sixth. Euro 2008 semifinalist Russia climbed again and is now eighth, its best ranking since 1997. England moved up four places to share 10th place with Portugal. Coach Fabio Capello's team fell out of the top ten in July after missing the Euro finals. Cameroon was the leader among African nations in 14th, down two places. Among the big improvers in the new rankings were Euro 2008 co-host Switzerland, which was up 18 places to 27th, while Serbia (30), Ecuador (31) and Slovakia (45) also had double-digit rises. Jamaica jumped 33 places to 86th after wins in World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Honduras. AP contributed to this report