2018 World Cup Bizarre, Meaningless Correlations!

22 Jun 2018 - Revant Birla

Let’s take a look at a couple peculiar correlations just for fun. The first correlation we found is between each World Cup teams’ FIFA rank and “Freedom to make life choices” index. The “Freedom to make life choices” index is a value calculated by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network in their annual World Happiness Report. The correlation yields a correlation coefficient (r) of -0.35 and an R² value of 12%. Essentially, these numbers tell us that there is a minimal correlation between FIFA rank and the “Freedom to make life choices” index, countries with higher levels of freedom are possibly associated with better soccer teams.

FIFA rank vs. 'Freedom to make life choices'

Another interesting correlation we found is between each World Cup teams’ FIFA rank and the average annual temperature in the country’s capital city. The correlation results in a correlation coefficient of 0.20 and an R² value of 4%. However, if we take out the outlier Russia (the host of the tournament?!), which happens to be a significant influential point in the correlation, the correlation coefficient between the FIFA rank and annual average temperature becomes 0.36 and the R² value becomes 12.7%, which happens to be a huge difference. All in all, our model (very slightly) associates average annual temperature in a country’s capital city with its FIFA rank. The colder the country, the better the soccer team?!

FIFA rank vs. Average annual temperature in capital city FIFA rank vs. Average annual temperature in capital city (without Russia)

We will be watching to see whether additional game play strengthens or weakens these correlations!

World Cup 2018 Data set taken from: https://www.kaggle.com/ahmedelnaggar/fifa-worldcup-2018-dataset/data

Average annual temperature calculated from: https://www.holiday-weather.com/

“Freedom to make life choices” index values taken from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Happiness_Report

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