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‘Middling England’: Capello’s men the only nation in world’s top eight punching below economic weight


By Brian Sears

17 June 2010

England are the only country ranked inside the top eight nations in the world who perform worse at football than national income levels suggest they should, according to sportingintelligence analysis.

Last week, we considered how countries fared in footballing terms in relation to the population resources at their disposal. England were middling. Portugal, Uruguay and the Netherlands did well. Japan and both Koreas fared poorly.

Today we turn from population to money, ranking each club in the World Cup by national income per capita, and comparing that to their Fifa ranking.

(Before we consider those findings, it is worth noting that in the 2010 World Cup so far, up to an including Argentina’s win over South Korea today, there has not been a single “shock” result so far in economic terms. Money does talk. In all games with a winner, the winner has either been the richer country in per capita income terms, or been ranked within three places of their opponents in wealth terms. Argentina are ranked 18th in wealth terms compared to South Korea in 15th for example).

But back to our research today.

As can be seen from the table below, Brazil, the world’s No1 football team but ranked only the 24th richest nation at the World Cup, are punching “plus 23” above their weight in football terms.

Spain, ranked No2 but with income ranked 11th among the World Cup teams, are punching “plus nine”. Portugal, ranked No3, are punching +13; the Netherlands, ranked No4, are punching +1; Italy, ranked No5, are punching +5; Germany, ranked No6, are punching +3; and Argentina, ranked No7, are punching +11.

England are ranked as the fourth richest nation at the World Cup with a national income per head of $33,238, according to figures available from the World Development Movement. But as England are ranked ‘only’ No8 in the world, they are punching “minus four” below their weight, and as such are the only top-eight nation to be punching below their economic weight.

We consider only 31 of the 32 countries here because North Korean income figures are not available.

Nigeria are the poorest country at the World Cup, with average income of $1,128 per year. A Fifa ranking of No18 means they are punching +13, as are Serbia and Cameroon, as well as Portugal and Argentina.

England are one of the four nations among Europe’s “big five” football nations who punch within a handful of places up or down of where they should according to finances. Italy, Germany and France are the others, while Spain punch +9.

Denmark, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland, in that order, are the countries most in need of diversion of wealth into football to improve their football performances, according to the numbers. Having said that, the Swiss win over Spain looks like change is in the air already.


More Brian Sears

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