Top Teutons

There’s plenty more where he came from

After crunching some rugger numbers at the start of this week I have returned to do similar in the only sport that matters for the next nine months: association football.

Can statistics demonstrate that a national team’s performance is predicated on the footballing resources at its disposal? Perhaps, but I’m no Statto. In a vain attempt to add some background to the FIFA Rankings I have mixed them together with two other sets of data: the number of registered (male) players in each country; and strength of the domestic league, using data such as the UEFA Coefficient as a proxy for national footballing infrastructure. Though the list of caveats to this analysis could rival War and Peace in terms of length, it should be particularly noted that inter-continental comparisons in this area are impossible as each federation has its own coefficients – or, in some cases, others have calculated them instead.

The analysis only applies to the top 20 ranked FIFA nations. It’s of passing interest that three nations not in the top 20 have registered players bases in excess of 1m – USA (4.2m), South Africa (1.5m) and Japan (a smidgen over 1m). The FIFA Rankings are much-maligned but, as Blatter’s mob are at pains to point out, it’s not their fault England perform better in friendlies and tournament qualifying matches than on the big stage.

Table 1 shows that there is a wide variation in the number of registered players per country. There are no real surprises here, though Spain’s number seems relatively low and Germany’s is huge – perhaps a case of extremely efficient data collection?

Table 1: The top 20 FIFA ranked nations, with strength of domestic league data and number of registered male players

Association

FIFA Ranking Points

Strength of domestic league* Registered players (total males)
Spain

1605

72.168

653,190

Germany

1474

63.686

6,308,946

England

1294

69.106

1,485,910

Uruguay

1236

29.732

41,800

Portugal

1213

48.918

132,734

Italy

1192

51.231

1,513,596

Argentina

1098

43.157

331,811

Netherlands

1053

42.229

1,138,860

Croatia

1050

17.833

109,799

Denmark

1017

24

301,333

Russia

1016

38.332

846,736

Greece

1003

31.6

359,221

Brazil

991

55.644

2,141,733

France

980

48.833

1,794,940

Chile

953

30.866

478,337

Côte d’Ivoire

939

11

23,200

Sweden

909

13.875

552,939

Mexico

862

42.499

324,595

Czech Republic

854

17.475

686,257

Ecuador

836

25.666

30,855

*UEFA Coefficient (or nearest comparator)

Another weighty caveat is that to reach meaningful comparisons between nations, I have divided the number of registered players by 1m; under the flimsy proviso that you have a ‘one in a million’ chance to be an international class footballer (tell that to Spain).

Thus, according to Table 2, Germany possesses over eight times the ‘footballing resources’ of Spain, and England has over twice the amount. Nations such as Argentina, Portugal, Croatia, Uruguay and Côte d’Ivoire clearly perform above their footballing resources, whereas Brazil and France underperform. However, the fact that together both of these nations have reached World Cup finals on five occasions in the last five tournaments strongly suggests otherwise. Perhaps the FIFA Rankings are a load of steaming horsecrap, after all.

Table 2: The top 20 FIFA ranked nations, in order of footballing resources strength

FIFA Ranking Association Footballing strength index*
2 Germany

401.79

13 Brazil

119.17

3 England

102.69

14 France

87.65

6 Italy

77.54

8 Netherlands

48.09

1 Spain

47.14

11 Russia

32.46

15 Chile

14.76

7 Argentina

14.32

18 Mexico

13.79

19 Czech Republic

11.99

12 Greece

11.35

17 Sweden

7.67

10 Denmark

7.23

5 Portugal

6.49

9 Croatia

1.96

4 Uruguay

1.24

20 Ecuador

0.79

16 Côte d’Ivoire

0.26

*(n[Registered Players]/1,000,000) x Strength of Domestic League)
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s