Category: On the Pitch

Category: On the Pitch A prediction of the 2014 World Cup finalist based on shirt suppliers

The FIFA World Cup (hereafter WC) is not only a tournament between national teams, but also a contest between kit suppliers. The WC is the largest sporting event in the world and the global market for football apparel, shoe and equipment is a multibillion market. Adidas and Nike, the two main rivals in the soccer footwear market, experience a boost in football-related sales just before and during the WC tournaments. Adidas is the Official Licensee and Supplier of the FIFA World Cup and since the 1970 WC it has supplied the match balls. The Adidas logo is on the referee uniforms, it has advertisements in the stadiums and its logo on the official FIFA World Cup website. It has also been the supplier for the German team for five decades since 1954. Nike paid the French football federation, up to 2010 supplied by Adidas, more than $500 million to be

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Category: On the Pitch Bayesian networks for unbiased assessment of referee bias in football

Introduction and methodology The notion that football referees are biased towards certain teams or in certain contexts is widely accepted by football pundits and supporters. In fact, whether or not such bias exists is an area of increasing interest that attracts the attention of researchers from the domains of sport science, psychology, statistics and computer science. Irrespective of the true underlying causes, there is no doubt that ‘playing at home’ has a significant impact on a team’s success. Referees themselves are believed to contribute to home advantage by favouring home teams on the basis of penalty kicks, free kicks, yellow/red cards and/or extra time (Nevill et al., 1996; 1999; 2002; Sutter & Kocher, 2004; Boyko et al., 2007; Downward & Jones, 2007; Dawson et al., 2007; Dohmen, 2008; Buraimo et al., 2010; Goumas, 2012). However, these believed biases could be explained by team performance. The increased number of fouls, yellow

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Category: On the Pitch They think it’s all over: National identity, scoring in the last minute, and penalty shootouts

Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.” Gary Lineker, BBC Sport presenter and former England captain “When the Germans play well they become world champion; if they play poor they reach the final.” Michel Platini, President of UEFA and former France captain Within the first eight minutes of the 1954 world cup final, Hungary had raced to a two goal lead. No one believed that West-Germany – or anyone – could beat Hungary. The previous year the “Mighty Magyars” became the first team to beat England at Wembley. But this did not stop Germany from staking their first claim to a reputation for being a team with a winning mentality – and a team that scores late goals. Helmut Rahn waited until six minutes before the end of the game to score the winner. The final whistle

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Category: On the Pitch Changing the hidden rules of football

We love sports for many reasons, from a cultural tradition that teaches each of us to respect and admire sports events, to professional reasons. One of these reasons relates to the ability of the best players and the best teams to hold our attention for lengthy periods. Deeply correlated with the quality of players and teams, it is important to have balanced sports competitions. Balanced competitions tend to disperse the probability of final victory across a large number of teams and thus maintain interest; in contrast, competitions whose winner is easily anticipated tend to lose interest, fans and financial sustainability. This discussion is important with regard to football, especially in the professional European football competitions. Season after season, we observe a concentration of the probability of winning the European professional leagues on a few teams, usually the ones with the largest budgets at the beginning of the competition. However, various

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Category: On the Pitch Are England in the most difficult group at the 2014 World Cup?

Since the final draw for the 2014 World Cup on 6 December, there has been discussion of which group is the toughest, the so-called group of death or, in German, the Todesgruppe. Of the eight groups, Groups B, D and G – with Spain, England and Germany, respectively – seem to be the main candidates. According to some of the German media, Germany’s group is the Todesgruppe, while for the English press, England are in the group of death. One reason why England may be in the most difficult group is because it was a victim of the pre-draw in which one of the nine European countries in Pot 4 had to be moved to Pot 2, which initially only contained seven countries. In advance, many feared a horror scenario in which the European country transferred from Pot 4 to Pot 2 was a strong team and was combined with a

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Category: On the Pitch End of season football manager statistics for 2013-14

The 2013-14 English football season has been somewhat different in its pattern of dismissals and resignations to previous seasons. We have had 37 dismissals of football managers in the 2013-14 compared with 43 last season. The number of resignations of football managers is also lower, with only 6 resignations compared with 20 for the comparable period last season.  In addition over 125 coaches lost their jobs in the professional football leagues in the 2013-14 season. The mix of dismissals by league looks noticeably different to that seen in recent seasons. Figure 1 shows the pattern of football dismissals by league in the past six seasons. In most of these, dismissals have been highest in Leagues 1 and 2, reaching as high as 14 for League 1 dismissals in 2008-09, 12 in 2010-11, and 11 for League 2 in three of the last four seasons. Dismissals in the Championship were also

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Category: On the Pitch The demographic polarisation of European football

In Europe, the profile of players in first division football teams greatly varies from one country to another. This article highlights the existence of functional demographic hierarchies between leagues of differing economic levels. Methodology The demographic analysis of teams of the principal European championships is based on the census carried out since 2009 by the CIES Football Observatory on the 1st of October of each year. In 2012, the study covered 473 clubs, 31 leagues and 11,631 footballers. An excerpt of the Demographic Study 2013 is available here (http://www.football-observatory.com/-Publications,18-). To be taken into account, a footballer must have played at least one match since the start of the season or, if not the case, he must have played matches in adult championships during each of the two preceding seasons. In order to determine the economic level of the championships covered by the census, we referred to the statistics on the

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