History of the World Cup

By Ross Perez 08 Jun, 2010

The world’s best soccer teams meet in South Africa this Friday as the 2010 FIFA World Cup begins. Spain, Brazil, and Argentina are the favorites, but, before playing your bets, it only makes sense to look back on past tournaments. Explore your country’s opponents by using the "group" selector below, or just hover over a country of interest.

The World Cup is truly a difficult forum. Of the 76 nations who have played in at least one World Cup, only 8 have winning records. If you use select countries that "Have won a title" (the filter second from the right) you will see that only seven countries have won the finals, all from Europe and South America. The bottom line: it is hard to win the World Cup, especially if you haven't before.

What we like about this viz

Flag icons: With over 70 countries to represent, color or shape encoding would be a complete mess in this visualization. The only way to make any sense of so many values is to encode them with icons, as here.


Submitted by Andy C. on

Flag icons are great, Ross, but as I've just discovered (doing something else World-Cup related, which I'll publish tomorrow), setting up each shape to each team is pretty tedious! I'd love if it if you could change the way shapes are listed in the Shape dialog box. It'd be nice if you could have them as a list with their file name - since my shape files were all named by country, it would have been doddle to match them up by text rather than working out which flag belongs to which country!

Anyway - nice viz.

C'mon England!

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Submitted by Ross Perez on

I know, Andy! I was feeling the same thing a couple of hours ago. Unfortunately, I am going to have to wish only for England's downfall, though. Looking forward to your viz. Tweet at us and we will RT.

Submitted by A European (no verificado) on

The winning / losing dividing line is wrong though...
Senegal has a 40% win rate and a 40% tie rate, meaning that they have only lost 20% of their games, yet according to the graph they have a losing record.

Depending on how you interpret "losing record" it should either be a line from 50% on the Y axis to 50% on the X axis (seperating the countries that have more than 50% losses from the rest). Or from 100% on the Y axis to 50% on the x axis (separating the countries that have lost more games than they have won from the rest).

Could it be that this graph was made by an american, not used to tied games? :-)

Submitted by Ross Perez on

Haha guilty as charged. What sort of game doesn't have a conclusion! In any case, it may be a little tricky to build a line as you describe, I will do my best though.