Now that the World Cup is over, who would you nominate as FIFA’s most valuable player? Would it be Messi? Young sensation James Rodriguez? Tragedy-stricken Neymar? Or human wall Tim Howard?
My pick would be data. Yes, cheesy as it sounds, you simply can’t ignore the proof. Data has been a rising catalyst in the world of sports, perpetuated even further by this year’s World Cup. The convergence of global football has been powered and saturated by data-driven analytics, predictive metrics, and more hashtags than that Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake skit.
Analytics really was everywhere. Designed to keep players healthy, some teams were utilizing health monitor tracking by sending data like heart rate and speed from sensors on their clothing directly to their physicians and coaches. Analytics also helped to make World Cup referees more accurate, with the introduction of goal-line technology which served as a great leap forward for the tournament this year. But don’t tell that to England Midfielder Frank Lampard whose apparent goal in 2010 wasn’t counted. #stillburns
What about those of us watching the games from the sidelines, at home, and during work? During the last tournament, InsideView estimated that 21 million unproductive Americans watching the games cost the U.S. economy roughly $121 million dollars. (I can’t wait to see the numbers from this year’s game). Data has also elevated the fan experience with incessant real-time news feeds across every social media channel you could imagine – delivering live updates, reactions, and the fastest hashtag campaign ever. #thingstimhowardcouldsave
Some other fun stats:
- Call volume on US-based conference calls according to InterCall was down 7% during the US vs. Germany match
- According to SportVU, Costa Rican defender Junior Diaz reached a max speed of about 21 miles per hour at one point during his team’s games against Uruguay, Italy, England and Greece, making him the Cup’s fastest player thus far
- FIFA counted 76 years from Brazil’s first and previously only World Cup semi-final defeat
- Third time’s the charm – this is the third time Uruguay Forward Luis Suarez has bitten an opposing player on the pitch
- There were a record 618,725 tweets at one point during Germany’s 1-0 win over Argentina in the final match
Pining for more stats? The Wall Street Journal created an interesting interactive chart that outlines how the tournament would play out if the 32 countries were competing in other things besides football.
Whether you’re a football fan or not, there’s no denying that the meteoric rise of data and analytics is changing the way we look at competitive sports. I’m excited about how this landscape will shift with the next World Cup tournament.