Faroe Islands leapfrog Wales in Fifa rankings

Jul 14, 2011
Jonathan Harwood

Student spots error in Fifa calculations and relegates Wales to bottom tier of European football

Wales's slim hopes of playing in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil may have been dealt a major blow even before the qualifying draw takes place, after a student in the Faroe Islands succeeded in persuading Fifa that his country should be ranked higher.

And that has relegated Wales into the bottom tier of European nations, meaning they will now be in the same pot as the likes of Andorra and San Marino when the draw is made later this month.

Student Jakup Emil Hansen, inspired by the BBC investigation into corruption at Fifa, smelled a rat after the Faroes beat Estonia 2-0, but remained below Gary Speed's outfit in the rankings.

Although both countries had 273 points and were joint 114th in the world, Hansen discovered that his team had 0.07 more of a point than Wales and should therefore be above them.

He told the Telegraph: "I'm not an expert with computers, I'm not a mathematician, I'm not even very good at maths, but I would like to be a journalist and I thought I saw something wrong. All I had was my computer at home and the calculator on it.

"I am a big fan of the BBC's Panorama program, which has done so much to expose the corruption in football and, when I started to do my calculations, it seemed to me Fifa were wrong... I think it took me something like five hours to do the calculations, which really aren't that difficult once you know the system Fifa use, but it took weeks to get anything done about it."

He had the support of a blogger in Romania and a local journalist called Rolant Waag Dam, but the ball really started rolling when Faroes manager Brian Kerr got involved.

Now it seems that Wales will be banished to pot six of the draw while the Faroes are in pot five, although Fifa have yet to officially confirm the World Cup draw procedure.

Kerr, who managed Ireland between 2003 and 2005, said that the change could have a big impact on his side. "We might be able to play against a side of a similar population and that would give us a chance of winning a game both home and away which hasn't been the case in the past."

Hansen admitted that his efforts would not be appreciated in Wales, but said it was something he "had" to do. But he acknowledged that Wales were "better" than his country.

"If Wales played the Faroe Islands tomorrow they would almost certainly win, I know that. They will go above us again, I'm certain of it," he added.

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