World Cup Soccer Data

I’m pretty into soccer. I played soccer all of my adult life, except when injuries got in the way. I’m a massive Seattle Sounders fan. And I love the global sport.

Every four years since 2006, I have taken a bunch of time off work to travel with a group of friends to watch the World Cup. We don’t always go to the host countries, because we refuse to give money to some countries (I’m looking at you, Russia. And definitely at you, Qatar, for your despicable human rights abuses and your despicable human rights abuses and your despicable human rights abuses.) Anyway, we always travel to a country that is appearing in the cup and is a time zone relatively close to the host country. We saw games live in Germany in 2006 and Brazil in 2014. For the last cup we traveled to Sweden. This year we’re touring Spain.

But I’d like to take a moment to curse FIFA. If you don’t hate FIFA, you should; they’re inconceivably corrupt. If you haven’t seen it, start with John Oliver’s 2014 take-down of the organization. And for this year’s cup, FIFA apparently decided to set the standard by which all corruption and hypocrisy should be measured by awarding it to a renowned, global soccer power, Qatar. Here is a chart I developed to describe historical performance of countries in the World Cup. If you squint hard and look all the way to the right, the truly observant among you may note that Qatar has never appeared at the World Cup.

Graph of world cup soccer performance, following a power-law curve from 230 points and 5 championships by Brazil, down to zero points for a collection of ten countries, four from the CONCACAF region.

I really like this graph; it shows a lot of information pretty densely (though you may have to open it in another tab and zoom in to read the country names). My Brazilian and German friends seem to like it a lot too, I’m not entirely sure why.

Anyway, let’s go USA! This year for sure!

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