Slideshows | June 5, 2014

Six tips to help pick the football champs (+ infographic)

When the FIFA World Cup kicks off, the best football teams worldwide are vying for the title of being the best at the biggest sport in the world.

But how much does this mean to people in the competitors’ home countries? And which teams have an advantage? The full report on "super teams" and "superfans" is here.

“Super fans”
An ING survey of about 8,000 people in 15 countries found Argentina and Chile are tied for top spot as the biggest “super fans”, followed by 2018 hosts Russia. Italy is the most fanatical of European countries surveyed. The United States is last.

Supporting role
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.

Picking a winner
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. The slideshow gives six tips on limiting emotion and keeping a rational mind to help pick the tournament champ.



Tame national pride When making decisions about money, emotion can get in the way. Add in the national pride we feel when our team competes and things become complicated. Before picking your FIFA World Cup winner, consult objective statistics to tame “home bias”. Remember, past performance is no guarantee of future results.


Dare to be different Brazil seems to be the bookmakers’ favourite to win the FIFA World Cup. But remember, Brazil winning is not a certainty. It may well be a good idea to stake your pride on an outsider.


Don’t overemphasise the past If it rains for three days in a row, we tend to overestimate the chance it will rain again tomorrow. Known as availability bias, this error can also sway our choice of World Cup champs. Our survey found that respondents exaggerated the chances of the reigning champions Spain.


Don’t be tricked by “patterns” Sometimes we see patterns where none exist. In football, don’t be fooled by a pattern of goals or wins that is simply not there.


Give chance a chance People often confuse luck with skill. There is no doubt that the 2010 winner Spain is skillful but has luck also played a part in their success. The answer is probably “yes”, as it is for most sports teams. Any team can get lucky.


Knowledge is power When picking which team will win, it is helpful to know a little more than friends trying to do the same. About a quarter of respondents to our survey say they can’t help but tell others who they are picking – and why – ahead of time. Known as information asymmetry, keeping information that a star player is in doubt to yourself might put you at an advantage.