Cup-o-nomics. An alternative view of the FIFA World cup favourites

On 12 June the FIFA World Cup kicks off. 32 of the best football teams in the world will start vying for the title of being the best at the biggest sport in the world. In an international survey of about 8,000 people in 15 countries we asked what the World Cup title means to people in the competitors’ home countries. Almost a quarter in our survey is willing to give up their mobile phone for a month if it meant their team would win! Our economists also looked at a range of economic indicators to investigate the World Cup teams and the attitude of their fans.

The key insight of our cup-o-nomics report:

1. Spain would prevail if…

If the “value” of all the players in a football team actually could decide the results of the World Cup, Spain would prevail this summer as our analysis shows its squad of 23 has the highest total market value at EUR675 million. Hosts Brazil are third and England seventh, boosted by the EUR49 million value of Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney.

2. Argentina & Chile biggest superfans

Our survey in 15 countries found Argentina and Chile are tied for top spot as the biggest “superfans”, followed by 2018 hosts Russia. Italy is the most fanatical of European countries surveyed. The United States is last.

How did we calculate our superfan league? Several measures are used to gauge nationalities’ passion for their team bringing home the FIFA World Cup, including willingness to sacrifice 1% of annual income for a year, the percentage of people who participate in a football pool, the average spend on supporter kit and more. The superfan league is calculated by ranking countries on their response for each of six measures, then adding up their positions to reach a single figure. Brazil’s position of fifth of 15 countries surveyed perhaps signals enormous confidence in their team’s abilities on the field, as supporters rely on track record to clinch the win rather than their own sacrifice of cash or privileges.

3. Russians and Argentinians highest spend per person on average on supporters kit

We used several measures to calculate nationalities’ passion for their team bringing home the cup, including willingness to sacrifice 1% of annual income for a year, the percentage of people who participate in a football pool, the average spend on supporter kit and more. Many fans like to show their support by dressing in the colours of their team. Russians and Argentinians top the survey results for spend per person on average on supporters kit, at EUR48. Expect to see plenty of red and gold on the streets of Moscow and white and sky blue in Buenos Aires. The figure in ING’s home of the Netherlands is only EUR5 per person but it adds to more than EUR70 million to be spent on Dutch supporters kit.

4. Argentina is willing to sacrifice the highest sum of money if it meant their team would win.

Chileans top the table on the measure of willingness to sacrifice a sum of money if it meant their team would win. They would be willing to give up EUR526 on average to see their team win. Adjusted for GDP to facilitate a like for like comparison, Argentina rises to the top.

In fact, the willingness to sacrifice money for a football win in Argentina is more than five times the country’s research and development spend as a percentage of GDP. Italy spends 1.25% of GDP on research and development, according to the World Bank, lower than the 1.5% of GDP they are willing to sacrifice for a World Cup win. This survey was commissioned by ING and conducted by TNS Nipo. In the Netherlands, there was an online survey among 1,067 respondents representative of the population based on age, gender and income. In all other countries, at least 500 respondents representative of the internet population in terms of age and gender were surveyed online.

5. Spain has the highest share of people who intend to participate in a World Cup pool.

Playing with friends or colleagues to guess which team will win the World Cup – known as a pool – can increase the excitement of the tournament. Some even add in a wager to increase the stakes. 2010 champs Spain has the highest share of people who intend to participate in a World Cup pool, at 49%.

The average wager ranges from highs of EUR83 in Russia and EUR80 in France down to EUR11 in the Netherlands. Our Cup-o-nomics infographic below gives six tips on limiting emotion and keeping a rational mind to help pick the tournament champ.

Six tips to help to pick the football champs

Part of the fun of the FIFA World Cup is supporting a team and trying to pick which nation will come out as the winner. But just as thinking tricks and traps can skew financial decisions, the same can be true for sporting decisions. Here are six tips that may help to calm the emotion and focus the mind.

Last modified: 05 June 2014

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