Every four years soccer related Sankey diagrams pop up. For the 2010 FIFA worldcup in South Africa I featured this figure. In 2014 there was the beautiful “The Road to Rio” diagram from an inflight magazine.

For the upcoming 2018 FIFA worldcup in Russia, two researchers have taken a more scientific approach. Their prediction model uses mathematical methods to determine who will most likely be handed the gold trophy on July 15 in Moscow. If you are into Monte Carlo simulations, bivariate and nested Poisson regression models, Brier score and Rank-Probability-Score (RPS) then you will enjoy the paper ‘On ELO Based Prediction Models for the FIFA Worldcup 2018’ by Lorenz A. Gilch and Sebastian Müller.

All others can just skip and go directly to page 22 of the paper to find this Sankey diagram based on 100.000 simulation runs:

via Twitter user @ggojedap

Groups and teams are color-coded, and the wider the band in the Sankey diagram, the higher the probability. So, according to this model, which takes into account performance of the teams since 2010, a nation from the green group will become the world champion. Purple runs with a probability of 18% and red with 14% (for the detailed values that form the basis for this diagram please see table 12 on page 15 of the paper).

Well, we’ll see, and in five weeks we will know the outcome. Whether you trust this more scientific approach, or whether you would rather go with a straight-forward Paul the Octopus divination … I hope you enjoy watching the matches!

In this post I had criticized a Sankey diagram depicting FIFA accounts published at BBC News. By drawing operating profits disproportionally they would overemphasize certain arrows.

Here is my version of the diagram, based on the values given in the article by Paul Sargeant (no warranty for the accuracy of these numbers). The orange arrow represents the operating profits, this time at the same scale.

Compare for yourself what impression the two diagrams create in you… and let me know by leaving a comment.

This diagram is by Salim Qurashi and Gerry Fletcher for the May 29, 2015 BBC News article ‘How Fifa makes and spends its money’ by Paul Sargeant.

BBC News via Coffee Spoons blog

The data is based on FIFA financial statements for 2011 through 2014. Flows in US$. The diagram depicts how “the Zurich-based multi-million-[dollar] organisation make its money and what does it spend it on?”.

This is only “sort of a Sankey diagram” as Brendan Barry “the man behind Coffee Spoons” notes. The light blue arrow for “operating profits” represents the balance difference between turquoise incoming and red outgoing flows. The infographic authors chose to set the arrows apart, which make it difficult to verify if arrow widths are to scale.

For the expert eye, some observations:

(1) Why has the sort order for incoming and outgoing flows been reversed? Imagine the red outgoing flow for “World Cup” (2,312m) being located at the right side thus becoming the longest arrow with a stronger emphasis…

(2) Not all flows are to scale: Compare the width of the light blue arrow for “operating profits” (338m) with another flow in the 300m-range such as “Financial Losses” (331m). An unintended flaw?

Only a few hours left until the kick-off of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil … A reader from Germany recently sent me a clipping from the May edition of Germanwings inflight magazine (read it online here). The article on page 36/37 has this Sankey diagram:

Interesting visualization, though not fully in line with the basic rules for Sankey diagrams. The width of the bands represents the number of times the world cup has been won. The main issue is that only eight of the participating countries have ever won the cup (Brazil, the pentacampeão won it 5 times, so far…). For most of the nations shown, the green stream or arrow thus stands for zero wins. Zero (nil) however is impossible to display in a Sankey diagram, if you want to maintain the basic rule of arrows being proportional in width to the quantity displayed by them.

Several approaches have been proposed for the “zero quantity flows” such as a thin dotted line, or a thin line with a label “no flow”, or a colourless line. In the above case the choice of the diagram type is – in my opinion – not the luckiest one. The main message is that all teams are dreaming of getting to Rio’s Maracanã stadium on July 13.

Also see my two posts for the 2010 world cup here and here with a slightly different Sankey diagram.

Blog reader W. Rufer sent a scan of a Sankey diagram from his favourite soccer magazine.

Rufer writes: “I found this rather unusual Sankey diagram in a German soccer magazine called 11Freunde (11Friends). It visualizes the career of French international Nicolas Anelka in terms of transfer and lending fees. He started in the youth team of Paris Saint-Germain, changed to their first team in 1995 and got sold to Arsenal for 750’000 € (left side of the Sankey diagram). From there he made his way through Europe, sometimes for incredible transfer fees of about 35 million €. Now, as a rather old player, he earns his money in China.”

The legend also has grey arrows, when Anelka was “on loan” to another club. The change to his current club was without tranfer fee (different blue).

Following up to my last post after the knockout of the 2010 FIFA world cup. Well, things have cooled down a bit now, so here is the completed Sankey diagram showing the tournaments goals.

As one commenter put it, you can “see that Spain’s road to success is a rather boring one (a thin line of 1:0 wins) while Germany was pretty inefficient (big lines, no gain).”

Drawing this was fun, although I was not happy to see my favourite team drop out in the quarter finals already…

In doing the Sankey diagram I found it difficult to handle null flows (that is, explicit zeros, not “no value”) in a Sankey diagram. Also I am not happy with the differentiation of regular goals and penalty goals (brown Sankey arrows). Maybe I’ll come up with a different presentation in time before the 2014 worldcup in Brazil…. 😉

Inspired by the diagram on the knockout stage of the 2010 FIFA worldcup, I just had the idea to “sankeyfy” it. The width of the Sankey arrow represents the number of goals scored. Penalty goals are shown in different color (brown), but to scale.

Now I have to run for the Brazil-Netherlands match….

Will update this diagram after the quarter-finals…