1. Save 40-80% on great soccer jerseys. Shop today at BigSoccer Shop!

Group play tiebreakers - FIFA is playing with fire

Discussion in 'World Cup 2014: General' started by joebarnin, Apr 9, 2014.

  1. joebarnin

    joebarnin Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2003
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    The tie-breaking rules for group play at the World Cup are detailed here, but basically they are this:

    1) Points
    2) Goal difference
    3) Goals for
    4) head-to-head
    5) draw lots

    Although it has never happened, there seems to be a small but non-trivial chance that second place in a group would come down to #5, a random draw. Here's an example of how this could happen (don't read anything into the teams I've chosen; it's just an example):

    Germany 1, Portugal 0
    USA 2, Ghana 0
    Portugal 1, USA 1
    Germany 1, Ghana 1
    Germany 2, USA 0
    Portugal 2, Ghana 1

    Germany wins the group with 7 points. USA and Portugal tie for second place with 4 points (1 win, 1 loss, 1 tie). They have the same goal difference, and the same goals for. Their head-to-head game was a tie.

    In this situation, a coin flip would determine who went on to the round of 16, and who went home. I suspect this would be a tremendous black eye for FIFA. It's not a question of fairness - after all, all Portugal or the USA had to do was score one more goal in any of their games, and they would have gone through. It's just that having to resort to drawing lots looks bush-league. For example, what if the World Cup final ended in a tie score after extra time, and instead of penalty kicks they flipped a coin to determine the champion? FIFA would look like a joke, and I think drawing lots to determine who advances is along the same lines (not quite as bad, of course).

    UEFA gets around this by using the teams' rankings and Fair Play ratings as tiebreakers, so the coin flip will almost assuredly never happen. But FIFA hasn't made this change, for some reason.

    How likely is this scenario? Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it can't happen. I wrote some software that simulates a World Cup. It uses the ELO ratings to rank the teams, then simulates each game. It isn't a great system, but it is reasonably accurate (similar, but not nearly as sophisticated as the SPI simulations or the work that Vorus McCracken used to do). In my simulation, teams like Brazil and Spain win the World Cup most of the time, and teams like Honduras usually finish last in their group. I'm not claiming it can predict the World Cup, but it is a reasonable simulator.

    Anyway, the program identifies the situation where two or more teams finish in a tie, and the tiebreaker comes down to the drawing of lots. I then ran 10,000 simulations of the World Cup. I found the following:

    1) The chance of the top two teams in a group finishing in a dead heat is slightly less than 1%. Since there are 8 groups, the probability that this will happen at a given World Cup is about 7.5%. This situation requires drawing lots to determine which bracket each team goes into for the knockout rounds, which is not totally embarrassing for FIFA because at least they both are still in the tournament.

    2) The chance of a dead heat for the second and third place is about the same (slightly less). The probability that this will happen at a given World Cup is about 7.2%. Around 1 in 14. Unlikely for any given World Cup, but not beyond the realm of possibility. This is the situation FIFA should do it's best to avoid - one team going to the knockout round and one team going home, based on a coin flip. I suspect almost everyone would rather have the Fair Play rankings or FIFA rankings used before a coin flip.

    I'll finish with one bit a trivia: in two simulations of the the 10,000 (0.002%), there was a group where all four teams finished with the exact same number of points, goals for, and goals against. In that situation, all four teams would get put into a hat. First one pulled wins the group, second one finishes second and goes to the knockout round as well, and the other two go home. Talk about a fiasco!
     


  2. MrOranjeBal

    MrOranjeBal Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Club:
    AZ
    Country:
    Netherlands
    Or talk about exageration. At least a coin toss is a fair way (50/50) of deciding, unlike UEFA using subjective criteria like ranking or fairplay.

    Also I think a coin flip decision has actually happened in one of the 70's cups. But I could be wrong.
     
    Rickdog repped this.
  3. MFKS78

    MFKS78 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2014
    Club:
    Newcastle Jets
    Country:
    Australia
    The whole way of deciding this as you suggested is a farce anyway.

    Rate them on rankings?? Well do you send the higher ranked team home cause they underachieved to finish level with a lesser team who they couldn't beat in a one off match?? Or do you keep them in there for their underachievement and inability to beat a lesser side

    Lets not even get started about the fairness of the FIFA ranking system when sides like Switzerland and Belgium get a seeding at a WC and the likes of Italy and Holland miss out.

    It might be hard to cope with drawing lots. But guess what it don't happen that often so stop panicking over it
     
    Rickdog repped this.
  4. clubamericalara

    clubamericalara Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2013
    Location:
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Club:
    Club América
    make them have a PK shootout in a median location. keep the fans happy. lol
     


  5. Rickdog

    Rickdog Member+

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2010
    Location:
    Santiago, Chile
    Club:
    CD Colo Colo
    Country:
    Chile
    The only thing I would do, is to flip the coin to the air, and have it decide as how it lands on the floor.
    And have Mr. Jerome Valcke, to stay locked inside another room as far away as possible .........
    :p
     
    MrOranjeBal repped this.
  6. joebarnin

    joebarnin Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2003
    Location:
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I believe it almost happened in 1970. The semifinal between West Germany and Italy went to extra time. If it was tied after extra time, they would have flipped a coin to see who made the final (this is before they decided to use penalty kicks to break game ties). Italy ended up winning 4-3 in extra time, so the coin flip was avoided.
     
  7. MrOranjeBal

    MrOranjeBal Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Club:
    AZ
    Country:
    Netherlands
    Actually it happened in 1990, to determine whether Ireland or the Netherlands were in second place in their group. No-one was sent home directly but the Dutch ended up in 3rd, leaving them to face Germany in the first knock-out round. They lost. Ireland went on to face Romania and won.

    Apparently, in 1954 lots were also drawn to determine whether Spain or Turkey qualified for the WC. Spain lost.
     
  8. Lusankya

    Lusankya Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2007
    Location:
    Germany
    Country:
    Germany
    Actually UEFA kinda have this rule. If two teams with the same number of points, goals scored, and goals conceded face each other on the last match and draw each other, there will be a penalty shoot-out. That could have happened between Turkey and Czech Republic during the EURO 2008. It happened between Poland and Turkey during this years qualifying round for the U-17 EURO.


    Indeed.
    [​IMG]

    However using modern rules, Spain would have advanced on goal difference.
     
  9. It's called FOOTBALL

    It's called FOOTBALL Member+

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    It also happened in the 2000 Gold Cup group D between Canada and South Korea. Then Canada went on to win the whole thing.

    I'm in favour of using time of possession as the 5th tiebreaker, that way it can finally mean almost as much as the fanboys make it out to mean.
     
  10. MrOranjeBal

    MrOranjeBal Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Club:
    AZ
    Country:
    Netherlands
    :D

    I can see teams hogging the ball in the first half of the matches they kick off to ensure at least 45 minutes of possession per match already....!! ;)

    I'd suggest overall number of shots on target.
     
  11. MFKS78

    MFKS78 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2014
    Club:
    Newcastle Jets
    Country:
    Australia
    No

    Go TV Game Show style where everyone phones/texts/emails to send one of them home.

    Can you imagine the ass kissing going on to bribe the voting public to vote their way and then the big announcement live on TV as one country is sent home and the other rejoices as they get a stay of execution.

    Gee we could start wars with this idea;):p:whistling:
     
    ChiBos repped this.
  12. elviejomen

    elviejomen Member+

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2007
    Location:
    Hasbrouck Heights NJ
    Club:
    Junior Barranquilla
    Country:
    Colombia

Share This Page