The International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), well-known for their club world rankings, have announced that Real Madrid are the club of the century (from 1901-2001 — yeah, one of those definitions of a century).
The IFFHS website proudly proclaims that this has been determined “on a realistic basis without imaginary values and subjective influences”, which seems an awfully dull and surely actually dubious way to make such a determination.
This can be seen in the curious criteria used for the rankings, as the title of the announcement is a little misleading — what they are judging is solely performance in continental competition from the start of the European Cup (now Champions League) in the 1950s. As the site explains, the ranking is determined “exclusively on the base of individual match results of the continental club competitions” because “the national competitions are merely a prerequisite to qualify for the continental club competitions.”
That’s a curious formulation given national competitions were not “merely a pre-requisite” for continental competition in more than half the “century” under consideration — since continental competition didn’t really exist. The exclusion of the Mitropa Cup’s results from 1927-1940 in the rankings, despite the tournament’s importance, is sensible as much of the continent did not participate in it and thus — as the site explains — a “club like Arsenal FC of London could not have the opportunity to demonstrate its strength in a competition.” But by the same logic, it seems odd to extend the period under review before the launch of the European Cup in the 1950s in the first place.
All the same, the rankings are of interest as a time capsule of the first ~50 years of continental European competion, with no fewer than 7 different countries represented in the top 10. You won’t be surprised that this is quite a contrast to the current top 10 European clubs as in the IFFHS ranking, with only 4 countries represented.
And despite the quibbles above, it is hard to argue that Real Madrid don’t deserve the top spot, whatever the criteria.
|1.||Real Madrid CF||España||563,50|
|2.||Juventus FC Torino||Italia||466,00|
|5.||FC Bayern München||Deutschland||399,00|
|6.||FC Internazionale Milano||Italia||362,00|
|7.||AFC Ajax Amsterdam||Nederland||332,75|
|9.||Sport Lisboa e Benfica||Portugal||299,00|