Power v Passion: Wealth Comes Second to Location and Tradition When Projecting World Cup Winners

By Pwc Global Survey, PRNE
Saturday, May 22, 2010

Brazil Favourite to Win World Cup 2010

DUBAI, UAE, May 23, 2010 - Richer countries do not generally outperform poorer opposition in
football, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) report released

Brazil are the statistical favourites at this year's World Cup
tournament, while England would do well to get beyond the quarter-finals
based on both current FIFA world rankings and historic World Cup performance.

The PwC paper (What can econometrics tell us about World Cup
performance?) finds that there is no significant link between average income
(GDP per capita) levels and tournament success. Relatively low income
countries from Latin America have often matched or beaten their more affluent
European rivals, particularly when playing in their home region.

Population size has some effect on World Cup performance, but it is not
that statistically significant. Argentina, for example, has sometimes matched
Brazil despite only having a fifth of its population. Relatively small
countries such as Uruguay, Sweden and Croatia have also punched above their
weight, particularly when playing at or close to home.

Home advantage and the strength of historic football traditions may turn
out to be the playmakers in World Cup success.

John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP,

"Our analysis shows that low average income levels are no barrier to
World Cup success, nor is population size as critical a factor as you might
expect - David can often beat Goliath on the football field.

"Those countries with a culture steeped in football and a passionate
national following can out-play the powerhouses of the world economy."

For example, the US football team performs well below expectations based
on the size of its economy or population relative, for example, to Brazil.
This reflects the ascendency of football in Brazil as contrasted to the
greater popularity of sports such as American football and baseball in the

China and India are even more dramatic examples of low levels of World
Cup success relative to populations of over one billion and rapidly growing
economies. India prefers to focus on cricket, while China has concentrated on
sports that maximised their potential gold medal haul in the 2008 Beijing

John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP,

"If a country has a strong footballing tradition, then finding 11
international class players should not be that difficult even from a
population of just a few million."

In addition, the study found no statistically significant correlation
between GDP per capita and either current FIFA rankings or historic World Cup

John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP,

"This may reflect that fact that basic footballing skills can be honed as
easily in the back streets as in an expensive sports centre. Furthermore,
football may represent one of the most appealing ways out of poverty for boys
in lower income countries."

Home or away?

These findings for football differ from previous PwC research showing
that population and average income levels impacted medals won in the Olympic

However, home advantage is one factor that is found to be highly
statistically important in explaining success in both the FIFA World Cup and
the Olympic Games.

The host nation has won six out of 18 World Cups and, even when they did
not win, the home countries have generally had strong campaigns.

England and France only won the World Cup when playing on home soil,
while smaller countries like Uruguay (which won at home in the first ever
World Cup in 1930), Sweden (which reached the final at home in 1958) and
South Korea (which beat Italy and the reached the semi-finals in 2002) have
all outperformed expectations when hosting the World Cup.

Spain's relatively modest performance when hosting the competition in
1982 was one of the comparatively rare exceptions to this rule.

There is also a clear host region effect that may be associated with
strong home crowd support and familiar climatic conditions. European
countries have only won the World Cup when it has been held in Europe, while
Latin American teams have won all of the World Cups held in the Americas.
Cameroon and Nigeria should therefore have the potential to do relatively
well this year, while South Africa should do much better than its lowly FIFA
ranking of 90th suggests."

John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP,

"Brazil remains the favourite to lift the World Cup this summer as the
number one ranked footballing nation and the only country that has won the
tournament outside its home region.

"England seems a reasonable bet to reach the quarter finals based on its
current FIFA world ranking and past World Cup performance, but it will do
well to get beyond that point - which it has never done before when playing
outside Europe."

Notes to editors:

Table 1: Top 20 nations by historic World Cup performance and current
FIFA rankings

    Total World Cup points scored     Current FIFA world ranking (28
    (1930-2006)                       April 2010)

    Rank      Country       Points*    Rank      Country        Points
     1        Brazil          206        1        Brazil         1611
     2        Germany         184        2        Spain          1565
     3         Italy          151        3       Portugal        1249
     4       Argentina        112        4     Netherlands       1221
     5        England          92        5        Italy          1184
     6        France           85        6       Germany         1107
     7         Spain           78        7      Argentina        1084
     8        Sweden           61        8       England         1068
     9      Netherlands        58        9       Croatia         1052
     10     Russia/USSR        57       10        France         1044
     11  Serbia/Yugoslavia     56       11        Russia         1003
     12       Uruguay          55       12        Greece         968
     13       Poland           50       13        Egypt          967
     14       Hungary          48       14          US           950
     15       Mexico           45       15        Chile          948
     16  Czech Republic**      41       16        Serbia         944
     17       Austria          40       17        Mexico         936
     18       Belgium          39       18       Uruguay         902
     19      Portugal          34       19       Cameroon        887
     20       Romania          29       20       Nigeria         883

*World Cup final games only: 3 points for win, 1 point for draw, 0 for

**Includes former Czechoslovakia results. Similarly for Russia/USSR and

Source: www.planetworldcup.com and FIFA/Coca-Cola rankings from

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