Italy won the gold medal at the 18th FINA World Championships in Gwangju, but Croatia is the best men’s water polo team of the world in 2019, based on the FINA’s criteria.
Winners of the FINA awards will be announced probably in December. However, after the World Championships, it is easy to find out which teams will be named the best in the world for 2019.
The Federation International de Natation has been awarding the best teams of the year since 2015 when FINA established the criteria for the choosing the best water polo teams, coaches and athletes in other aquatic sports.
FINA adopted a transparent system, which is based on the rankings in the FINA’s main events.
The best 12 teams (or athletes) at the FINA’s competitions and the Olympic Games earn points. The criteria are published on the FINA’s official website.
This year, two FINA’s water polo events were held – the World Championships and the World League.
Olympic Games/World Championships
1st place – 180 pts, 2nd place – 140pts, 3rd place – 130 pts, 4th place – 100 pts, 5th place – 90 pts, 6th place – 80 pts, 7th place – 70 pts, 8th place – 60 pts, 9th place – 40 pts, 10th place – 35 pts, 11th place – 30 pts, 12th place – 25 pts.
1st place – 120 pts, 2nd place – 90 pts, 3rd place – 80 pts, 4th place – 60 pts, 5th place – 50 pts, 6th place – 40 pts, 7th place – 35 pts, 8th place – 30 pts, 9th place – 25 pts, 10th place – 20 pts, 11th place – 15 pts, 12th place – 10 pts.
(The World Cup is also in the ranking system, but this event isn’t in the 2019 calendar)
Croatia collected 220 points (130 for the bronze in Gwangju and 90 for the silver medal in the World League).
Italy earned 180 points for the World Championships gold, but the Italians didn’t play at the World League Super Final (among 8 best teams). They took the 4th place in the LEN Europa Cup (European qualifications for the Final Eight). Three best teams in the Europa Cup (Hungary, Croatia and Spain) advanced to the Super Final. Serbia qualified as a host, despite the Olympic champions took the 6th place in the Europa Cup.
The best-case scenario is that the Italians will gain 25 points for the 9th place in the World League, which means that the sum of their points will be 205.
Serbia is also better than the Italian team. The Serbs have 210 points (120 for the gold in the World League and 90 for the 5th place at the World Championships).
There is no doubt which squad deserved the award for the best women’s team of the year. The USA Team has 300 points.
The women’s team of Spain, which won the silver at the World Championships, isn’t near the top FINA’s rankings, because the Spaniards didn’t qualify for the World League Super Final. They earned not more than 25 points. They were 5th in the Europa Cup, while first four teams went through (Netherlands, Russia, Hungary and Italy). The female team of Italy secured a spot at the Super Final because Hungary was the host.
In previous years, FINA didn’t announce the list of the teams, but only the winners.
If FINA doesn’t change the criteria, this will be the lists of the best teams of the world in 2019:
1 Croatia 220 pts (3rd WCH, 2nd WL)
2 Serbia 210 pts (5th WCH, 1st WL)
3 Italy 205 pts (1st WCH, 9th WL)
4 Spain 200 pts (2nd WCH, 4th WL)
5 Australia 160 pts (6th WCH, 3rd WL)
6 Hungary 150 pts (4th WCH, 5th WL)
1 USA 300 pts (1st WCH, 1st WL)
2 Australia 180pts (3rd WCH, 5th WL)
3 Russia 170 pts (5th WCH, 3rd WL)*
4 Italy 170 pts (6th WCH, 2nd WL)*
5 Spain 165 (2nd WCH, 9th WL)
6 Hungary 140 (4th WCH, 6th WL)
*In case of a tie, the points at Olympic Games/World Championships prevail
(In the period 2010-2014, FINA was awarding the best players)
2010 Vanja Udovicic (Serbia)
2011 Filip Filipovic (Serbia)
2012 Josip Pavic (Croatia)
2013 Denes Varga (Hungary)
2014 Filip Filipovic (Serbia)
2010 Elizabeth Armstrong (USA)
2011 Alexandra Asimaki (Greece)
2012 Maggie Steffens (USA)
2013 Jennifer Pareja (Spain)
2014 Maggie Steffens (USA)
2015 Dejan Savic (Serbia, men) and Adam Krikorian (USA, women)
2016 Dejan Savic (Serbia, men) and Adam Krikorian (USA, women)
2017 Ivica Tucak (Croatia, men) and Adam Krikorian (USA, women)
2018 Tamas Marcz (Hungary, men) and Adam Krikorian (USA, women)