Qatar climbs above regional rival Saudi Arabia in FIFA rankings after Asian Cup success

Key Points
  • Newly-crowned Asian soccer champion Qatar has climbed to 55th in the latest FIFA world rankings, gaining 38 places and reaching their best position since 1993.
  • Qatar has also risen above rival Saudi Arabia, notable as the two countries have been at odds during recent years due to worsening diplomatic relations.
  • They had been 93rd in the previous rankings going into the tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which started in January.
Qatar's players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2019 AFC Asian Cup final match against Japan.
Stringer | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Newly-crowned Asian soccer champions Qatar have climbed to 55th in the latest FIFA world rankings, gaining 38 places and reaching their best position since 1993.

The rise also now means Qatar can claim some Middle East bragging rights, as the second-highest placed team in the region. It's now only behind Iran, which has itself moved up seven places to 22.

All of which now bodes well as Qatar builds toward featuring at its first World Cup, which the tiny oil-rich state will host in 2022.

Qatar has also risen above rival Saudi Arabia, notable as the two countries have been at odds during recent years due to worsening diplomatic relations, which has even extended into the world of sport.

Qatari-based media group BeIN Sports last month accused the rival Saudi Arabia broadcaster beoutQ of brazenly stealing its output from a variety of top sports leagues and rebranding it as its own, even to the extent of selling beoutQ set-top boxes.

After finishing pointless and ranked 13th out of 16 teams at the last Asian Cup in 2015, not a great deal was expected of the Qataris. They had been 93rd in the previous rankings going into the tournament in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which started in January.

Qatar's fans also faced heavy restrictions attending matches in the UAE, but that didn't deter the nation from causing several upsets along the way. During the knockout stages, the team beat South Korea and the hosts before conquering Japan in the final on Friday.

The impressive run to the title saw Qatar concede just the one goal in seven matches.

However, their abilities are likely to be sorely tested in June at the Copa America in Brazil, when the Qataris will play as a guest team in a group featuring Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay.

The Asian Cup has been responsible for almost all of the notable changes in this, the first ranking of 2019, with the scarcity of games in other confederations leaving the top 20 unchanged — with Belgium still being in pole position.

Another consequence of these changes is that Asia has boosted its numbers in the ranking's top 50. The AFC is now represented by four teams, up by one from the last edition, and now stands level with Africa.