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Executive Sports Co Helps Fans Make Sense of World Cup Fever

Brazil is where all the action is for this year's World Cup.
Brazil is where all the action is for this year's World Cup.
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Just about everywhere on the planet, the World Cup is both religion and global economics in the form of tournament, says Kyle Gaspari, founder and owner of Executive Sports Co in Burlington/Toronto, ON.

Some 3.7 million fans are expected to descend on Brazil this summer for the defining competition of the world’s most popular sport. All told, the country’s government has spent about $10-billion (U.S.) on direct and indirect costs to prepare for the Cup, which kicks off on June 12, says Gaspari.

In the lead up to the World Cup tournament, Gaspari points out that Goldman Sachs has released a detailed statistical manual, estimating not only each team’s chances of winning it all (Brazil leads the way, with a whopping 48.5-per-cent chance, followed by Argentina at 14.1 per cent), but also the tournament’s indirect economic impact.

On average, the nation that wins the World Cup sees its stock market outperform the global market by about 3.5 per cent in the first month after victory, according to the report. But those gains don’t last – in the year following the tournament, the winning country’s stock market will underperform by about 4 per cent, according Gaspari during an interview from Executive Sports Co’s office.
If the predictive power of such statistics sounds dubious, that’s because it probably is. Indeed, the report’s authors acknowledge that their complex algorithms for measuring team strength will probably be outplayed by reality: “Football is ultimately,” they write, “a pretty random game.”

Gaspari of Executive Sports Co breaks it down so fans understand the real odds come game time next month. (Note, data and information from this story are provided by Goldman Sachs and the Globe & Mail, May 28, 2014).

World Cup teams for Brazil 2014

Brazil
Previous World Cup appearances: 19 (5 wins)
FIFA world ranking: 4
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 48.5
The team: The undisputed favourite to win the World Cup, Brazil’s deep talent pool and unchallenging group makes it poised for a deep run.
The economy: The host country is trying to move past four years of “low growth, high inflation, high and internationally uncompetitive unit labour costs, and an overvalued currency.”

Cameroon
Previous World Cup appearances: 6
FIFA World ranking: 50
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0
The team: Samuel Eto’o and company will look to move past the group stage for the first time since they reached the quarter-finals in 1990.
The economy: Similar to its team, Cameroon “has no shortage of raw talent and resources, but has failed to generate a fundamental transformation while conditions were favourable.”
Croatia
Previous World Cup appearances: 3
FIFA World ranking: 20
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.1
The team: Having not qualified in 2010, Croatia will look to make an early statement as they face off against Brazil in the tournament’s opening match.
The economy: The country’s “economic performance has been one of the weakest in the European Union since the onset of the Great Financial Crisis.”

Mexico
Previous World Cup appearances: 14
FIFA World Ranking: 19
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.1
The team: Mexico will look to build on its gold-medal finish at the 2012 Summer Olympics, but with only three games under his belt, new coach Miguel Herrera is a wild card.
The economy: The short and medium-term outlook for Mexico is positive as a result of “the macro resilience built in recent years and overall disciplined market-friendly policy approach.”

Australia
Previous World Cup appearances: 3
FIFA World ranking: 59
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.1
The team: Australia heads to Brazil as the lowest ranked team in the tournament and will be competing in a group with Spain and the Netherlands.
The economy: After 22 years of growth, major risks are intensifying as the “commodity prices and mining construction that delivered Australia through the global financial crisis relatively unscathed are now swinging sharply into reverse.”

Chile
Previous World Cup appearances: 8
FIFA World ranking: 13
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.5
The team: Head Coach Jorge Sampaoli’s fast-paced offensive tactics should complement the skill sets of Eduardo Vargas and star forward Alexis Sanchez nicely.
The economy: The best managed nation in Latin America’s copper dependent economy is grappling with “adverse consequences of what looks to be the beginning of the end of a decade-long boom in commodity prices.”

Netherlands
Previous World Cup appearances: 9
FIFA World ranking: 15
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 5.6
The team: While they’ve won all but one of their World Cup qualifying games, the Dutch have fallen in the FIFA rankings from second in 2010 to 15 in 2014.
The economy: Despite its economy having suffered since 2008, “Dutch investment saw positive and increasing growth in 2013 … and seems more likely to show a return to further positive growth in 2014.”

Spain
Previous World Cup appearance: 9 (Won 1)
FIFA World ranking: 1
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 9.8
The team: Spain’s “technical efficiency allows its players to maintain possession while tiring out the opposition as they chase the ball,” which also serves as an effective defence.
The economy: Despite having accumulated high levels of debt during its boom years, the report says that “Spain’s economy is on the right track.”

Colombia
Previous World Cup appearances: 4
FIFA World ranking: 5
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.6
The team: Head Coach Jose Pekerman has been credited with “the revival of Colombia’s squad to its glory days of the 1990s.”
The economy: Considering this is their first World Cup appearance since 1998, “the re-emergence of Colombia as a regional football power has coincided with the strengthening of its economy over the last several years.”

Ivory Coast
Previous World Cup appearances: 2
FIFA World ranking: 21
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.2
The team: With players like Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, the highest ranked team in Africa is looking to play spoilers against Greece and Colombia.
The economy: According to the World Bank’s 2014 ‘Doing Business’ report, the country “ranked among the 10 countries with the fastest improvement in business climate.”

Greece
Previous World Cup appearance: 2
FIFA World ranking: 10
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.3
The team: Combining a mix of young players with seasoned veterans, the Greek national team constitutes “a capable set of players who managed to reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.”
The economy: The country’s Growth Environment Score greatly improved in 2013, and 2014 “may be the first year of growth after a prolonged recession.”

Japan
Previous World Cup appearances: 4
FIFA World Ranking: 47
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0
The team: While they are the lowest ranked team in the group, Japan is the only Group C team that has qualified for five consecutive World Cups.
The economy: Since the last World Cup in South Africa, Japan’s soccer league has expanded at a faster pace than Japan’s real economy.”

Costa Rica
Previous World Cup appearances: 3
FIFA World ranking: 34
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0
The team: The group’s clear underdog, Costa Rica is known as a “tactically disciplined side” under head coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
The economy: Costa Rica has attracted “large foreign direct investment inflows,” which has helped “maintain steady growth rates and finance the current account deficit.”

England
Previous World Cup appearances: 13 (Won 1)
FIFA World ranking: 11
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 1.4
The team: Despite not having won since 1966, England’s World Cup team consists of some of the world’s top players, which makes them hard to count out.
The economy: Looking ahead, England’s economic forecast apearsto “remain above consensus on growth, below consensus on inflation and more dovish than consensus on policy.”

Italy
Previous World Cup appearances: 17 (Won 4)
FIFA World ranking: 9
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 1.5
The Team: Considering the quality of the competition in Group D, Italy will look to Gianluigi Buffon and Mario Balotelli to lead the team into the next round.
The economy: Despite the risk of low growth and deflation, “Italy is slowly emerging from a severe and prolonged recession, but it is not out of the woods yet.”

Uruguay
Previous World Cup appearances: 11 (Won 2)
FIFA world ranking: 6
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 1.1
The team: Known as El Maestro, Oscar Tabarez’s team is predicted to have a 57.5 per cent chance of moving on from the dangerous Group D.
The economy: In 2013, Uruguay’s economy “grew a healthy 4.4 per cent, although inflation is running at 8.5 per cent and shows no signs of abating.”

Ecuador
Previous World Cup appearances: 2
FIFA world ranking: 28
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.4
The team: Led by Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia, Ecuador is a team that could potentially sneak into the next round the same way it did in Germany in 2006.
The economy: While the country’s “real GDP growth slowed to 4.5 per cent in 2013 from a recent peak of 7.8 per cent in 2011,” IMF forecasts say that the economy is “likely to grow at a more moderate pace from here.”

France
Previous World Cup appearances: 13 (1 Win)
FIFA world ranking: 16
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.8
The team: Since they won in 1998, France’s performance has been volatile having reached the finals in 2006, but not making it out of the group stages in 2002 and 2010.
The economy: In contrast to their World Cup performance, “the growth performance of the French economy has been the least volatile of all of this year’s 32 World Cup participants.”

Honduras
Previous World Cup appearances: 2
FIFA world ranking: 30
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0
The team: Group E’s indisputable dark horse has yet to secure a World Cup win having failed to make it past the group stages in 1982 and 2010
The economy: The country’s economic growth has been volatile, but “favourable terms of trade, a recovering coffee sector and higher growth in Honduras’s key trading partners should help lower the current account deficit.”

Switzerland
Previous World Cup appearances: 9
FIFA world ranking: 8
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.4
The team: Led by Johan Djourou and Philippe Senderos, Switzerland’s stout defence has been integral to their current ranking and will dictate whether they move on to the knock-out rounds.
The economy: Switzerland’s economy has been better in the “post-crisis period than any other major Western European economy.”

Argentina
Previous World Cup appearances: 15 (Won 2)
FIFA world ranking: 7
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 14.1
The team: Once again a favourite to win it all, Argentina will look to Messi to lead this squad to the finals and cement his status as one of the greatest players in history.
The economy: Argentina “is suffering from a combination of elevated inflation and declining economic activity amid a swift deterioration in its external accounts.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Previous World Cup appearances: 0
FIFA world ranking: 25
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.2
The team: Making its first appearance since becoming an independent nation state, Bosnia and Herzegovina has the potential to sneak through to the knock-out rounds.
The economy: Since it became an independent nation state in 1995, “Bosnia and Herzegovina has staged a solid post-war recovery.”

Iran
Previous World Cup appearances: 3
FIFA world ranking: 37
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.1
The team: Despite its long soccer history, “even locally, [Iran’s] hopes are not high” for it to move on to the next round considering its difficult group.
The Economy: “Partly due to the sharp deterioration in its macro conditions, its economic and political isolation and the ongoing rigidity of its political structure, Iran has slipped down the rankings of our Growth Environment Scores in the last few years.”

Nigeria
Previous World Cup appearances: 4
FIFA world ranking: 44
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.1
The team: Strong play from Nigeria at the World Cup will go a long way to solidify its place as Africa’s top nation.
The economy: 2014 will be a year that Nigeria will look to cement its place as Africa’s best team “by confirming its reigning title as 2013 Africa Cup of Nations’ champions.”

Germany
Previous World Cup appearances: 17 (Won 3)
FIFA world ranking: 2
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 11.4
The team: Head coach Jogi Low will look to play an attacking style of soccer that he hopes will help Germany survive the tournament’s toughest group.
The economy: A stable German economy is expected to have “solid growth of around 2 per cent this year and next” and “is also more balanced than before the crisis.”

Ghana
Previous World Cup appearances: 2
FIFA world ranking: 38
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0
The team: Looking to cement its place as Africa’s top country, Ghana’s proven international success means they are a team to watch if they can make it out of the group stages.
The economy: Despite having made “growth less dependent on gold and cocoa export,” its “economic performance has deteriorated recently.”

Portugal
Previous World Cup appearances: 5
FIFA world ranking: 3
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.9
The team: Cristiano Ronaldo’s play is likely to dictate Portugal’s World Cup performance.
The economy: Portugal has learned the value of flexibility from the euro crisis: “If a ‘shock’ strikes one sector, resources can be reallocated to other sectors.”

The U.S.
Previous World Cup appearances: 9
FIFA world ranking: 14
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.5
The team: With recent media attention surrounding the absence of Landon Donovan from their roster, it’s easy to forget that the U.S. ranked ahead of teams like France and the Netherlands.
The economy: By the time the team leaves Brazil, “the U.S. economy [is] poised to accelerate to above-trend growth for the first time since before the 2010 World Cup.”

Algeria
Previous World Cup appearances: 3
FIFA World Cup ranking: 25
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0
The team: Algeria was unable to score a goal in South Africa and was given a 24.6 per cent chance of reaching the next round.
The economy: Algeria accounts for 2.1 per cent of the world’s oil and 2.5 per cent of its natural gas production, which makes it “vulnerable to changes in global energy prices.”

Belgium
Previous World Cup appearances: 11
FIFA world ranking: 12
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.6
The team: Despite not having appeared in a World Cup since 2002, Vincent Kompany’s young Belgium squad has a 61 per cent chance of moving on.
The economy: A healthy private balance sheet coupled with a high degree of integration with Germany’s economy could see a 1.6 per cent growth in its own economy.

South Korea
Previous World Cup appearances: 8
FIFA world ranking: 55
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.6
The team: As the only Asian country to reach the semi-finals, Korea’s young yet experienced squad is likely make it to the round of 16.
The economy: While an improvement in the global macro is expected, the pace of recovery could be slow and moderate in both exports and domestic demands.

Russia
Previous World Cup appearances: 9
FIFA world ranking: 18
Goldman Sachs’ probability of winning: 0.5
The team: Having not played in a World Cup in 12 years, the tournament’s next host country seems poised to re-emerge on the international scene.
The economy: Russia had set itself up for a promising economic recovery, but “growth prospects are likely to remain challenged” until the crisis in Ukraine is resolved.