World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

Formula that shows which countries are under-performing

LONDON - Academics at the Cass Business School in London have devised an alternative set of world rankings - and guess who is top?

The report's author, Dr Garry Gelade, took into account the number of people playing football in each country, wealth, climate and length of Fifa membership - reaching the conclusion that first-round losers the United States should in fact be the world’s best team.

While Brazil, top of the Fifa rankings, are down in lowly 18th. Gelade says this proves that Brazil have consistently punched above their weight due to their passion for football, while the USA are squandering their soccer potential due to the lack of theirs.

Germany came in second (11th in Fifa's sometimes controversial world rankings averaged over five years*) with this year's finalists Italy (Fifa* = 7th) and France (Fifa* = 2nd) third and fifth respectively.

England, according to the findings, should really be fourth best team in the world which according to the report "proves" what fans have long suspected, that the team have under-performed given their Fifa ranking* of 9th.

This blog makes no comment on the science behind this research - or its relevance - but for the record here is how it works.

The table is based on the snappy formula: Performance = ((111xP) + (1.2xN) + (5.8xE) + (188xW) – (1.2xWxE)- 68)-881 where P = number of men who play football regularly, N = the number of years the country has been a member of Fifa (can anyone suggest why is this relevant?), W = wealth, E = number of internationals who play abroad.

Add in a final determining factor (climate), and Gelade reckons he can show where a country should sit in the rankings, as opposed to their actual place in the Fifa rankings based on their performance.

The formula in full:
Number of alternative ranking points =

(111 x Popularity Index**) + (1.2 x Number of years member of Fifa) + (5.8 x Percentage of expatriate internationals) + (188 x Wealth Index***) - (1.2 x Wealth Index x Percentage of expatriate internationals)

Then take Climate**** in account: If a hot humid country, subtract 61 x Wealth Index, and a further 87 points. If a cool temperate country, subtract 68 points. Finally subtract 881 points.

* Fifa rankings referred to are an average of rankings from 2000-2005.
** The Popularity Index is the logarithm of the number of men who regularly play football (3.3m in England).
*** The Wealth Index is the logarithm of the per capita GDP measured in US$. Expatriate internationals are international players who play club football abroad.
**** Climate is defined according to the following:

Hot Humid: Avg annual precipitation = 2,139 mm, Avg annual temp = 25.1 deg C, avg vapour pressure = 25.2 hPa
Cool temperate: Avg annual precipitation = 837 mm, Avg annual temp = 7.8 deg C, avg vapour pressure = 8.5 hPa
Countries of the third type have: Avg annual precipitation = 643 mm, Avg annual temp =22.7 deg C, avg vapour pressure = 16.5 hPa

In the "hot humid" countries, most of the population live in a tropical or sub-tropical climate zone. In the "cool-temperate" countries, most of the population live in a temperate climate zone. In the third type, which is more mixed, the most common climates are desert or steppe.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 01:29 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • john wrote:

That is a really crap post

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  • 2.
  • At 01:35 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • Penny wrote:

For another 'scientific' way of judging countries performances (not rankings)take a look at Times Online The Fink Tank. In particular a very interesting article by Daniel Finkelstein called 'French Path to success has been a real scream'

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  • 3.
  • At 01:46 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

What has wealth got to do with the ability to play football, usually the poorer you are the more you play, (w/a rock, a rolled up T-shirt and if lucky a real ball) the richer you are the more opportunity to do other things.
Take that out of the equation and there might be something to it,

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  • 4.
  • At 03:21 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • Geoff Saunders wrote:

I think this is what could politely be called a "space filler"

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  • 5.
  • At 03:24 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

Wealth could have a lot to do with footballing success. Provision for practise / training facilties, physios, dietitians, all the wealth of computer based recources, scouts, etc... plus individual wealth means, for example, transport to matches, to practises, greater freedom to spend time training (as opposed to earning money) at a young age, etc... It may seem foolish, but I quite like this formula.

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  • 6.
  • At 03:44 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • Malcolm wrote:

They say that the best boxers are the hungry boxers. Success in football has more to do with inequality and a passion for the game.

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  • 7.
  • At 05:09 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • Edgar wrote:

What ?

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  • 8.
  • At 05:40 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • Greg S wrote:

Someone has far too much time on their hands.

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  • 9.
  • At 10:52 PM on 09 Jul 2006,
  • Garry Gelade wrote:

Sorry Malcolm and Neil, but Ben is right. Wealthier countries are more successful at football, once you take out factors like size and football tradition - that's a statistical fact. You also need to know that of the 41% of internationals who play abroad, 83% play in a wealthier or higher FIFA ranked country, bringing experience and skills back to their national team. Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have almost exactly the same number of regular players, the same per capita GDP, and have been FIFA members for about the same length of time. But only 5% of Ethiopian internationals play abroad, compared to 65% of DRC internationals. Our formula predicts a rank of 143 for Ethiopia, and 72 for the DRC. Actual ranks: Ethiopia 137 and DRC 67. Pretty close huh?

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  • 10.
  • At 12:07 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Iain wrote:

You've told us wher England are in these alternative rankings but since the BBC is supposed to give equal coverage to all the home nations could you not also tell us where Scotland, Wales and NI are. Just shows the English-bias there is in the "British" media towards English sport.

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  • 11.
  • At 03:00 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Garry Gelade wrote:

Iain, the actual rankings for the other home nations are: Scotland 51, Wales 79, Northern Ireland 101. Based on our model, they should all be doing a lot better. Scotland should be 34, Wales 37 and N Ireland 48. So none of the home nations seem to be making use of their manpower, financial resources, and international experience... Well you did ask.

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  • 12.
  • At 12:08 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • claire stocks, blog editor wrote:

John/Geoff.
With hindsight, you're right.
Claire

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  • 13.
  • At 10:13 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Iain wrote:

I think Scotland have just been through a rough spell in the last 10/15 years though and we will probably get up to the mid-30s in the next few years. How do these rankings compare with other football rankings such as the Elo ratings (https://www.eloratings.net/system.html)?

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  • 14.
  • At 11:25 AM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • Garry wrote:

Iain, the current FIFA ratings correlate very highly with the ELO ratings. You might be interested to know however that FIFA is going to simplify/change its rating system quite soon. For one thing, the new FIFA system will only use the last 4 years results, instead of the last 8 years. I don't know how this would affect Scotland's placing.

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