Fifa Men’s Rankings Analysis

(https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Futebol_feminino_ol%C3%ADmpico-_Brasil_e_Suécia_no_Maracanã_(29033096805).jpg)
Marta and Neymar, stars of the women’s and men’s Brazilian teams which are currently ranked 10th and 3rd in the world, respectively (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brazil_and_Croatia_match_at_the_FIFA_World_Cup_2014-06-12_(19).jpg)

The first variable that we analyzed was the FIFA Men’s Rankings, to compare the success of the men’s and women’s teams from the same country.  FIFA/ Coca-Cola World Rankings are calculated using an algorithm that considers match results, importance of the match, strength of the opponent and strength of the confederation of the opponent, with more recent games receiving more weight in the score.  The system has been criticized as overly simplistic and even deeply flawed. Some common criticisms are that the score does not consider goal differential, home field advantage and cannot tell whether a team is playing their stars or testing out a team of younger prospects/ resting some of their better players.  Additionally, the strength of opponent confederation has been criticized as biased because the metrics assume that European teams are stronger because of their confederation (Manfred). Why should playing a weak team from a strong confederation be considered more difficult just because of their confederation?

Although the rankings are often criticized, they are the best available and most widely accepted metric for ranking the strength of national soccer teams.  They are used for rankings in several international tournaments. And while they may be criticized for missing by a few spots, they are generally pretty accurate and definitely capture the general trends of which nations have the strongest men’s and women’s teams.  We used the rankings as of March, 29, 2019.

The rankings are based on a score that is calculated based on the above factors and usually ranges from 0 to about 2,000.  The score is calculated using the following algorithm:

Points = M (points for match result) * I (importance of match) * T (strength of opponent) * C (strength of confederation)

Using the score, rather than just the ranking, allowed for greater insight into the differences between the teams to be shown, because the 3rd and 4th ranked teams might be very close in their score while there is a great distance between 4th and 5th.

As mentioned above, analyzing the correlation between the two was done to determine what effect a strong men’s football program has on the strength of the women’s team.  Are there nations that are crazy for football and churn out the best teams regardless of gender? Or are there other factors that are more important?

The correlation between the women’s rankings and the men’s rankings yielded a t-value of 3.22 and a p-value of 0.002, demonstrating significance in the correlation between the two variables. Additionally, the coefficient of .327, shows that the correlation is positive, meaning that the two variables are positively correlated.  A p-value below 0.05 is typically referred to as significant, so the value 0.005 shows that there is a very strong relationship between the two lists.  

Demonstrating this relationship statistically shows that there is a correlation, but it is also interesting to ask about why this might be the case.  Potential reasons could be that the nation has a culture of football, as described above. These nations could be just crazy about soccer, with larger percentages of the country watching soccer and playing on their own.  Additionally, having a strong men’s team to lookup to probably gives both young boys and girls idols to lookup to and try to emulate. Or it could be that well funded and well run men’s national teams were better able to support the development of strong women’s national teams.  It is impossible to prove any of these qualitative reasons for the strength of the relationship between men’s and women’s soccer success, but the data shows that there is definitely a strong correlation between the two.

 

“FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.” FIFA.com, 4 Apr. 2019, www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/men/. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019.

“FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.” FIFA.com, 29 Mar. 2019, www.fifa.com/fifa-world-ranking/ranking-table/women/. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019.

Manfred, Tony. “FIFA Uses A Horribly Flawed Ranking Formula To Determine The Top Seeds At The World Cup.” Business Insider, 6 June 2014, www.businessinsider.com/fifa-ranking-formula-2014-6. Accessed 19 Apr. 2019.

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