Search

Editors

Harry Cassin Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding Senior Editor

Jessica Tillipman Senior Editor

Richard L. Cassin Editor at Large

Elizabeth K. Spahn Editor Emeritus 

Cody Worthington Contributing Editor

Julie DiMauro Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox Contributing Editor

Marc Alain Bohn Contributing Editor

Bill Waite Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah Contributing Editor

Russell A. Stamets Contributing Editor

Richard Bistrong Contributing Editor 

Eric Carlson Contributing Editor

Bill Steinman Contributing Editor

FCPA Blog Daily News

« Bill Waite: How corrupt regimes changed today’s world | Main | Where in the world is 1MDB fugitive Jho Low? »
Wednesday
Jul182018

David Bligh: Did the Corruption Perceptions Index correlate with World Cup fouls?

Watching this year’s World Cup over the last few weeks, I wondered: how does the perceived corruption of the participating countries relate, if at all, to the number of fouls committed by their respective teams?

My scouring of the internet uncovered no prior research on the topic, so I decided to see for myself.

To test the relationship, I used two sources: (1) the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from Transparency International, which scores each country based on the "perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople" and (2) the average number of fouls per game committed by each of the 32 teams participating in this year’s World Cup.

I compared the two data points country by country, using a linear regression to assess a possible trend. The data confirmed that, in general, the teams representing countries with higher levels of perceived public sector corruption in this year's World Cup committed more fouls per game.

To illustrate the observed correlation, I ranked each team (1 to 32) from the least fouls per game to the most fouls per game, and from the best 2017 CPI score to the worst 2017 CPI score. I then calculated the difference between the two rankings to identify the countries that most closely followed the trend and those that did not.

While countries like Uruguay and Russia are examples that support the correlation, other countries like Brazil and South Korea are examples that clearly bucked the trend.

I invite readers to let me know what inferences or conclusions, if any, we can draw from this.

Country

Fouls per Game Rank

2017 CPI Score Rank

Difference

Argentina

17

23

6

Australia

8

6

(2)

Belgium

19

8

(11)

Brazil

4

24

20

Colombia

26

24

(2)

Costa Rica

20

14

(6)

Croatia

27

17

(10)

Denmark

15

1

(14)

Egypt

11

27

16

England

5

4

(1)

France

14

10

(4)

Germany

3

5

2

Iceland

7

6

(1)

Iran

21

28

7

Japan

2

9

7

Mexico

15

29

14

Morocco

30

22

(8)

Nigeria

23

31

8

Panama

28

24

(4)

Peru

8

24

16

Poland

6

13

7

Portugal

17

12

(5)

Russia

29

29

-  

Saudi Arabia

4

17

13

Senegal

21

19

(2)

Serbia

23

21

(2)

South Korea

31

16

(15)

Spain

1

15

14

Sweden

12

3

(9)

Switzerland

13

2

(11)

Tunisia

25

20

(5)

Uruguay

10

10

-  

 

Source: Corruption Perceptions Index (2017) by Transparency International is licensed under CC BY 4.0 DE

______

David Bligh, CPA, CFE, pictured above, is a Senior Vice President in the Washington, DC office of AlixPartners. He has nearly a decade of experience, focusing primarily on complex accounting issues, monitorships, and corporate investigations. Prior to joining AlixPartners, he worked for one of the Big Four accounting firms as a public accountant. He can be contacted here.

Reader Comments (9)

Funny idea. But I would be surprised if there was a relation. Fouls in sport are public, whereas corruption often is not. And the players chose for another job than their corrupt countrymen.
July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterPeter
Fun article!
July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy P.
it is a good exercise, I think there is not too much relationship considering most of the players actually live in others countries different to those who they represented, and there is not jail in the world cup :), I would recommend to use the Yellow Cards instead fouls. the best example was Japan which advance to the 16th rounds because had less yellow cards than Senegal.

Regards,
Antonio
July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAntonio
You forgot to account for the nationality of the officiating referee :)
July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEnrico
"I invite readers to let me know what inferences or conclusions, if any, we can draw from this."

Answer: None. :-)

Perhaps a better predictor of the number of fouls would be the size of organized crimes in the country's team. Somehow it feels that the most violent players are the ones who could be targeted to retaliation at home for screwing up at the Cup. Remember the case of Andrés Escobar. Of course, you also have to take into account the athletes who live outside of their native countries.
July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMonica A.
Not sure how useful this could be given than these teams do not have an equal play time
July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSofia
I found your article very interesting, and commend you for trying to find a trend between fouls and corruption. I wish to share my thoughts.

The case of Croatia, for example, is a little bit distorted because they ended up playing 90 minutes more than any other team (three extra time games), therefore increasing the number of fouls per game.

Regarding Brazil, you must take into consideration the amount of faked fouls they commit. That would be an additional variable, because faking fouls committed against you is another form of corruption, because they intend to fool the referee.

In conclusion, I do find a correlation between the Top 10 CPI countries and the tendency of their football teams to play a "cleaner" game.

Sincerely, Eduardo
July 18, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEduardo Garcia
As if Brazilians were the only ones who appeal to this strategy to slow down games.. You may have Neymar in your mind. That's another story. But you can't fake five world championships.
July 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMonica A.
I concur with Enrico and Antonio, other items should have been included with schedule: Referee (Native Country or Officiating source) along with Yellow and Red Cards issued.
This might give an idea if there was any influence applied to game since card issuances did not always appear to be consistent in issuance.
July 19, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJ. Long - Houston, TX
Comments for this entry have been disabled. Additional comments may not be added to this entry at this time.