World Cup Winners, FIFA ranking and connection with Prime Numbers
The World Cup has begun, and anticipation is reaching fever pitch as best of the best come together to fight for the most coveted and biggest prize in football. It is the single biggest sporting event in the world. FIFA introduced the ranking system in 1992 to measure and estimate the relative strengths of the team in association football. In this article, we take a look at the pre-tournament ranking of the past World Cup winners and analyze the data to see if we can find some pattern.
1994 World Cup, United States
Brazil won the 17th edition of the FIFA World Cup with a pre-tournament ranking of 2. Brazil defeated Germany in the final by 2-0. They also became the first team to win the World Cup 5 times.
1998 World Cup, France
France won the World Cup with a pre-tournament ranking of 18. The World Cup was hosted by France. Since they did not play any qualifiers, it affected their ranking. Due to these reasons, we are taking them out of consideration for this analysis.
2002 World Cup, Japan and South Korea
Brazil won the 17th edition of the FIFA World Cup with a pre-tournament ranking of 2. Brazil defeated Germany in the final by 2 goals to nil. They also became the first team to win the World Cup 5 times.
2006 World Cup, Germany
Italy won the World Cup, and its final pre-tournament ranking was 13. Italy defeated France 5-3 in a penalty shootout. It was Italy's 4th World Cup.
2010 World Cup, South Africa
Spain won the World Cup with the final pre-tournament ranking of 2. In final Spain defeated Netherlands 1–0 after extra time.
2014 World Cup, Brazil
Germany won the World Cup with the final pre-tournament ranking of 2.
Observation and Analysis
In 1992 FIFA introduced the FIFA World Ranking system and since then team ranked 2nd has won the World Cup 60% of times. Surprisingly no top-ranked team has ever won the World Cup.
The top-ranked team over these years were;
but none of them was able to take the trophy back home- the "Top Ranked Team Curse".
All the World Cup winners have a pre-tournament ranking within top 3, barring the 2006 World Cup which was won by Italy. Italy was ranked 13 in 2006. They were certainly not picked out as one of the pre-tournament favorites in the build-up to the 2006 World Cup. In 2006 the infamous ‘Calciopoli’ scandal surfaced, and some of the country’s top teams like Juventus, Milan, Lazio, and Fiorentina were facing severe punishments for their involvement in the match-fixing scandal.
Italy national team was in a complete turmoil and was not even expected to get out of the group stage. Now coming to the prime number connection, one can notice that pre-tournament ranking of all the winners is a prime number. Prime numbers appear more frequently 1-5 and logically speaking, top-ranked teams are the obvious stronger contender than low ranked teams so this stat is meaningless.
It is still an interesting coincidence as by previous logic first ranked teams should have the highest probability of winning and 1 is not a prime number. Sadly, no top-ranked team has ever won the World Cup.
Current teams which have prime number rank are:
There is a high probability that, this trend may continue as teams like Brazil, Belgium, Argentina, and France have prime number rank and they all are the strong contender to win the competition.