The truly egalitarian nature of Soccer now proved

Soccer, the beautiful game is played the world over. The FIFA has 205 countries listed as its members. All of them have their respective soccer associations. In contrast the UN has only 191 member states. The UN has its pecking order with China, the US, the Russian Federation, the UK and France forming its permanent members in the Security Council with veto powers.
We have heard so much about soccer being the level playing field. The game that seems to leaven the differences between the have and have nots. But wait a minute. Is that really true? Surely, the wealthier nations with their higher standards of living, given their greater buying power can afford to build soccer stadiums, hire the best coaches, invest in the state of the art techniques, pay their players more, and create leagues that attract new talent. So we really should see them do better in soccer. Right? FIFA’s ranking should reflect that money can buy everything.
I followed the data from the UNDP report of 2005 that gives the Human Development Index (HDI) of 177 countries. The HDI is a composite score that takes into account life expectancy, education and literacy rates, and theGDP of that country. I took the HDI rankings of the top 20 countries and compared them to the HDI rankings of the top 20 countries in FIFA’s list. And this is what I found. GDP is GDP per capita and is in US dollars reflecting PPP (Purchasing Power Parity).
UN Top 20 HDI countries
Country HDI Score FIFA rank GDP
1 Norway 0.963 39 37,670
2 Iceland 0.956 97 31,243
3. Australia 0.955 44 29,632
4 Luxembourg 0.949 151 62,298
5 Canada 0.949 85 30,677
6 Sweden 0.949 16 26,750
7 Switzerland 0.947 35 30,552
8 Ireland 0.946 29 37,738
9 Belgium 0.945 50 28,335
10 United States 0.944 5 37,562
11 Japan 0.943 18 27,967
12 Netherlands 0.943 3 29,371
13 Finland 0.941 48 27,619
14 Denmark 0.941 14 31,465
15 United Kingdom 0.939 9 27,147
16 France 0.938 8 27,677
17 Austria 0.936 75 30,094
18 Italy 0.934 12 27,119
19 New Zealand 0.933 115 22,582
20 Germany 0.930 22 27,756
FIFA top twenty countries
Country HDI rank GDP
1 Brazil 63 7790
2 Czech Republic 31 16,357
3 Netherlands 12 29,371
4 Argentina 34 12,106
5 USA 10 37,562
6 Spain 21 22,391
7 Mexico 53 9168
8 France 16 27,677
9 England 15 27,147
10 Portugal 27 18,126
11 Turkey 94 6772
12 Nigeria 158 1050
12 Italy 18 27,119
14 Denmark 14 31,465
15 Cameroon 148 2118
16 Sweden 6 27,967
17 Egypt 119 3950
18 Japan 11 27,967
19 Iran 99 6995
19 Croatia 45 11,080
The average PPP of the twenty most developed nations is USD 31,563 and that of the FIFA top twenty is USD 17,648. This is a significant difference (p<.05, p=.000328). In addition out of the FIFA top twenty, there are four countries (Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Brazil) that are considered medium in human development and two (Nigeria and Cameroon) that are low in human development.
These numbers point to the egalitarian nature of soccer. It is truly a game for the masses. And despite the lack of finances and consequently infrastructure in many of these countries be it running water or education, people come out to play soccer. Even countries undergoing severe internal conflict like in Iraq, Haiti, and Sudan take the effort to send their soccer teams and do well. It is truly heartwarming to know that soccer plays its part to level the playing field.

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2 comments on “The truly egalitarian nature of Soccer now proved
  1. I think the UN HDI scores are too focused on these narrow parameters. Shouldnt happiness be a criteria- the Brazilians would top it again.

  2. In our recent Financial Times (campus edition) there was a graph plotting GDP and Fifa ranking, Which was then suppose to make the argument that the higher your GDP is the higher your FIFA ranking. I’m looking for a similar graph to that online but haven’t been able to find it. This comparison was the closest I could get. Are there any other links out there that could help maybe?

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