The Women’s World Cup finished up a few weeks ago, and one of the main talking points leading up to and through the tournament was the artificial turf that all the games were played on. Although some high school and college soccer teams play on artificial turf, no Men’s international matches between countries have ever been played on turf.1 This was the first time that the Women’s World Cup was held on a surface other than grass, and it led to a lawsuit being filed by many of the players who played this summer. When questioned about this difference, FIFA gave a few answers, among them, the fact that the turf was included in Canada’s bid for the World Cup.2 In response, the grass company Scotts stepped up and offered to put grass in at all 6 venues at no cost to FIFA, but the proposal was refused. In the end, all the matches of this edition of the World Cup were held on turf. Luckily though, the next edition of the Women’s World Cup looks like it will be held on grass again as both countries bidding have included that in their bid. Overall, this difference in quality is one of the many things FIFA will have to change as they look to improve the balance of the Women’s and Men’s games.
We researched the correlation between EA Sports video games FIFA 13 and FIFA 14 and the results of the top 5 leagues in Europe over the last 2 years. The videogame FIFA gives each team ratings for offense, midfield, defense, and gives an overall star rating and we compared these to the final statistics in each league. The leagues that we gathered data for were the English Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, and Ligue 1. By plotting this data and fitting it with a best-fit line and an r2 value, we found a few key correlations between the video game and real life.
The strongest correlation existed between points for all of the leagues besides ligue 1, as a function of defense and midfield. By excluding ligue 1 and offense in our model, we ended up with an r2 value of .658. This is surprising as it suggests that having better rated forwards means little to how well a team does over the course of a season. Using weights assigned to defense and midfield we project that the overall point total for a team playing a 38 game schedule (Bundesliga plays 34 games a season so we weighted their point total to reflect 38 games) follows the form Points = -244.8511 + 2.0671*Midfield + 1.9066*Defense.
We took these projections and compared them to the current season even though the seasons aren’t over. We compared current place in standings to the projected standings of each league given their projected point totals. Of the four leagues, La Liga and the Premier league are closer to the predicted table averaging within 2.35 and 2.5 places respectively of their projected finish. The Bundesliga and Serie A are not as close to predictions as they average within 3.6 and 3.75 places respectively.