June 17, 2010

Alternate World Cup Rankings

Now that the World Cup is into full swing we figured that we should revisit some of the earlier work that we did on the cybergeographies of football (see here and here). In the table and map below, we've calculated the proportion of all geotagged content in each of the 32 countries competing in the World Cup that mentions the word football.

(click on table for closer view)

And for those more visually inclined, here is the data in map form.

We are able to see that the amount of online interest in football (or more specifically, the propensity of people create content mentioning football tagged to a specific part of the planet) rarely correlates to a country's FIFA ranking. Brazil, for example, which is the top ranked team in the world is at the very bottom of our rankings. Only 0.02% of content in Brazil makes reference to the word football. This is an even lower percentage than North Korea! Of course, our earlier post on the topic did find a lot of content mentioning the Portuguese word futebol so this is almost certainly a linguistic issue.

Will these rankings go on to replace the official FIFA rankings? We'll just have to wait and see. But, it is worthwhile noting that yesterday's unexpected Swiss victory over Spain and the Uruguayan victory over South Africa can both be explained by these cyber-rankings. So we're investing the vast fortune (otherwise known as a deficit) we've made via floatingsheep.org t-shirts on a few side bets. Hmmm...perhaps South Korea to win against Argentina? You heard it here first!

Perhaps most interestingly, Algeria and England are first and second in the rankings (with 2.2% and 2.1% respectively). So, we'll have to see if Algeria live up the their reputation in the cyber-rankings in the match between the two sides tomorrow.


  1. Now you know the Portuguese word is different, yet you refuse to use it? Why?

  2. We have actually mapped out references to football in Portuguese in the map on this post: http://www.floatingsheep.org/2010/04/football-or-is-it-soccer-in-nine-and.html

  3. Interesting.... keep up the great work!!

    Common Cents

    ps. Link Exchange???

  4. Hey! love the maps - but just thought i would say that in Australia the word football means australian football league - so it would get alot of references - where as the word 'soccer' may not =) just a word from down down under (tasmania)

  5. @philippa: Thanks! We understand the problems with using just "football" in these maps - as both Australia and the USA present problems. We've addressed some of these language differences in a previous post that Mark linked above. In this series, however, we were looking for a more uniform way of measuring, and so we chose the most universal term for the game - football.

  6. That's a fascinating way to look at the World Cup data.