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Stats wiz turns to soccer
by Paul Kennedy, November 12th, 2009 7AM
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[MAKING A LIST] Nate Silver, mostly recently celebrated for his political analysis and use of statistics to predict the outcome of the 2008 presidential election, has turned to soccer, compiling international rankings that place in the USA 14th in the world.

The Soccer Power Index, published by, ranks the USA No. 14 in the world in the most recent index.

Silver, an acknowledged soccer fan, admits there is a challenge compiling soccer ratings. "If a particular international team is not engaged in a major competition, such as the World Cup, it may play only a handful of meaningful matches each year," he says. "Compare that to a 162-game season in baseball, an 82-game season in basketball, or a 16-game season in American football. Many of these games, moreover, may be against teams of inferior quality, or may feature marginal lineups as many of a team's star players are engaged in club competition instead."

Silver, who first made a name for himself with his statistical analysis of baseball, says his ratings distinguish themselves from the FIFA rankings in that they take into account such things as margin of victory and home-field advantage. They also calculate the strength of the players in the team.

"If you had to bet your life on a soccer match, you would use SPI and not FIFA," Silver told the Wall Street Journal's Daily Fix.

SBI Index
1. Brazil
2. Spain
3. England
4. Netherlands
5. Argentina
6. Germany
7. Portugal
8. Chile
9. France
10. Uruguay
11. Ivory Coast
12. Italy
13. Russia
14. United States
15. Serbia


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