Quite a few people have been wondering the same nations always win, whereas others never get very far in world cups, and I think I have found a scientifically sound answer to this question – but it is hardly surprising when I tell you it all comes down to money.
The German Institute for Economic Research published a study in which they analysed the 2012/13 season in a range of European leagues to determine the extent to which each team’s success is determined by – amongst other factors – the market value of their players. Ultimately their theory is that the higher the market value, the higher the chances to win. This theory can be put to the test by looking at the teams who qualified for the World Cup: the European teams who qualified were the eight teams with the highest market value within their group, only Russia got in before the more valuable Portuguese. The only exception is Honduras, who sneaked in before Mexico and Jamaica, despite their marked value being considerably lower than everybody else’s.
The most expensive squad is Spain’s, valued at 631 million euros, and the most expensive player is Messi (120 million euros). Cristiano Ronaldo at 100 million euros is valued more than the combined value of the squads of Honduras, Costa Rica, Australia and Iran. The German magazine Der Spiegel, who wrote about the study, came up with the following outcomes predicted solely on the market value of each of the teams:
Clearly this study cannot be used to reliably predict outcomes – Spain and Germany will definitely not meet in the final – it does nevertheless highlight the importance of finances. In terms of market value of players, the African teams do rather well: many of their players play in the big European clubs, which means that Ivory Coast or Cameroon, where many players play in the wealthiest clubs in Europe, have a higher market value than Japan, just as Ghana beats the USA hands down.
Honduras has few players of international standing, hence their position at the bottom of the list. But like many other South Americans, Hondurans like their barbecues, or asados. The following recipe, which I found on the website This is Honduras, makes a lovely dip or accompaniment to meat, similar to the Chilean pebre or the Argentinian chimichurri. It’s easy to prepare and gives your steak the oomph Honduras would have needed to get past the group stage..
- 1/2 white onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 diced tomato
- 1/4 cup fresh coriander
- 2 limes
Finely dice the ingredients. Chop the coriander and mix in a small bowl. Add salt and lime juice to taste – if you have powdered garlic, you could add this as well.
ThisisHonduras has the following advice: ‘the secret is to balance the flavours of the three key ingredients: coriander, salt, and lime – use them generously and experiment!’