David Kirkpatrick

July 9, 2010

World Cup 2010 prediction — here comes the science

Filed under: Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:43 pm

(drumroll …)

And sophisticated analysis of Netherlands’ and Spain’s tactics predict a Spanish win this Sunday at Soccer City Stadium.

From the link:

Mathematicians and football supporters Dr Javier López Peña and Dr Hugo Touchette from Queen Mary, University of London have collected ball passing data from all of the FIFA  games and analysed it to reveal the nations’ different styles of play.

Using the mathematical technique called Graph Theory, they have revealed the gaping holes in England’s tactics against Germany game and made predictions about the Netherlands-Spain final that could rival the psychic octopus.

For each national side, Drs López Peña and Touchette have drawn up a ‘network’ of passes between players throughout the tournament and analysed how these networks compare between teams. Dr Touchette explains: “Each player in the network is given a score called centrality which measures how vital they are to the network. The higher the centrality score, the bigger the impact if that player wasn’t there. This method is most commonly used to make  more robust, but it can also be used to plan football strategy.”

June 28, 2010

The World Cup — tradition v. technology

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:44 pm

I’m not sure there’s any decent answer here, but the traditions of soccer simply don’t jibe with the realities of modern technology. Pesky stuff like televisions 40 inches and up in most homes, broadcasts to those large TVs in high definition and enough cameras placed around the pitch to capture every moment. Moments like clear goals that are disallowed. Moments like getting to see a diver fall down in writhing agony with no person or object within 15 feet of them. This worked when most everyone, including the one official on the pitch, was following the ball. Modern broadcasts put cameras on all sorts of action away from the ball and major officiating mistakes make the sport look, well, a bit stupid.

And don’t even get me started on hypocrisy of defending the traditions of the sport when actively promoting the tournament as being broadcast in 3D. As a ruling body FIFA has to either put up with ridiculous diving and a plethora of bad calls, or embrace modern technology and what it can do to make the game better. Because those two options are mutually exclusive.

So to get back to my original conjecture, I’m not sure there is a decent answer to tradition versus technology in soccer, but I am pretty sure this is not a workable solution.

From the link:

FIFA will censor World Cup match action being shown on giant screens inside the stadium after replays of Argentina’s disputed first goal against Mexico fueled arguments on the pitch.

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