Report links FIFA rankings to economic and political environment

According to a Goldman Sachs study, The World Cup and Economics 2010, there is a link between a country's FIFA football rankings and its Growth Environment Scores for sustainable growth and productivity. GES are measured by grading law enforcement, level of corruption, political stability and openness. An earlier report linked GES to wealth creation and Goldman Sachs questioned whether "the size of wealth matters for football too — in particular for the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and many others."

Firstly noting population size is an important factor ("the more men you have, the more there are to choose from"), the report continued:

"The correlation between GNP per capita and the current FIFA rankings is –0.17, lower than the correlation in 2006 (–0.41), indicating that there is a weak relationship between GNP per capita and a country’s FIFA ranking. Similarly, there is a very weak correlation between GES and FIFA rankings (–0.07). If we split the countries into developed and developing, the correlation for developed countries is 0.29, and still weak for developing countries (–0.004). One of the reasons for this weakness is Brazil and Argentina — their GES cannot explain their high ranking.

"More interestingly, there seems to be a relationship between the improvement in FIFA ranking since the last World Cup and the improvement in GES over the same period, particularly for developing countries. This correlation is 0.28 if we include all the participating countries (except North Korea), and without Brazil and Argentina, it is even higher at 0.34. The relationship is stronger if we look at the developing countries only (0.51). Without Brazil and Argentina, the correlation for emerging markets is even higher at 0.64. This suggests that, while the improvement in GES may not be that important for the traditionally dominant players, it helps the smaller emerging markets to improve their FIFA ranking, since the improvement in GES could conceivably be associated with better infrastructure and funding facilities for football."

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