x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Economics predict World Cup results

Greece may as well just go home now, if a look at per capita GDP helps to pick World Cup winners.

Anyone surprised by Japan's win over Cameroon on Monday night had not been studying the correct indicators. It is not goals or even kilos per player that count, nor how much money the individuals earn playing in European leagues. A pattern is emerging that will help to predict results: the team with the best economic indicators, including the higher GDP per capita, will prevail. We have called this the Financial Indicator for Football Accuracy, or as the fans like to call it, Fifa.

Japan's plucky team triumphed despite being smaller and less muscular than their opponents. This we can attribute to the country's whopping per capita GDP of US$38,455 (Dh141,243), a giant sum compared with Cameroon's $1,226, according to the World Bank. Look at the earlier matches and in nearly every case the team with the higher GDP won. When relative wealth is quite well matched, as in the case of the England versus the US fixture, the result was a draw.

How about Monday night's encounter between Italy and Paraguay, we hear you ask? True, on paper the Italians enjoy GDP per capita of more than $38,000 compared with Paraguay's less than $3,000, but we think this shows that Italy's woes are not just restricted to their ageing captain Fabio Cannavaro and creaking oldie Gianluca Zambrotta. Clearly the country's economy is more beleaguered than was previously thought. No doubt the speculators will force down the price of its bonds and stock market as soon as trading commences.

The acid test will come today when Spain take on Switzerland. Football pundits fancy the Spanish team, impressed by the talents of Cesc Fabregas, David Villa and Fernando Torres. After all, they are the European champions. But their economy is in tatters. Unemployment is close to 20 per cent and rising. On just about every economic indicator, Switzerland should win or at least hold on for a draw. Should they not, we can only speculate that fierce new banking regulations will affect the Gnomes of Zurich much more than had previously been assumed.

With our new model, we think we can predict the final. Having crunched the numbers and adjusted them for debt per capita, we expect to see Germany oppose Brazil in the final. Brazil will win, with Germany too weighed down by the worries of the euro to lift the trophy. Austerity measures are all very well but when it comes to the pinch, you still have to score. @Email:rwright@thenational.ae