While we don’t tend to think of Fiorentina as a “big” European club, the recently-released UEFA club rankings might disagree. They have the Viola sitting in 28th, which may not seem like much, but makes them the fourth-best club in Italy. Only Juventus (5th), Napoli (17th), and AS Roma (21st) lead them, while the likes of Lazio (36th), AC Milan (53rd), and Inter Milan (83rd) are well behind.
So how does a club that didn’t even qualify for Europe this year end up ranked ahead of perennial European performers like Ajax, Villarreal, CSKA Moscow, and Wolfsburg? By progressing pretty far in the Europa League for 3 consecutive seasons under Vincenzo Montella and that one with Paulo Sousa. The results are compiled over the previous 5 seasons via a points system (e.g. 2 points for participating in the group stages of the Europa League).
The club coefficient serves a couple of purposes. First. it determines seeding in draws for playoffs and group stages. Therefore, if Fiorentina qualifies for the Europa League, they’ll probably end up in the first or second pot when drawn into the group stages, even if they have to go through the playoffs to get there. Second, the coefficient helps determine how much money a club gets from UEFA for its progress through a tournament. Again, for an outfit like the Viola, every little bit helps, so this is a significant thing.
While the UEFA ranking is bound to drop next year—missing Europe this season definitely hurt—the boys from Florence still have a good chance to avoid the toughest teams in the draw should they earn a spot. More than that, though, it’s fun to remember that, even though it may feel like nobody besides us is ever paying attention to the Viola triumphs in Europe, someone is.
Of course, that that someone is UEFA is hardly comforting, but it’s better than nothing. Also, let’s all take this moment to laugh at the Milan clubs.