National soccer teams are currently ranked by soccer's governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). Although the system used by FIFA is thorough, taking into account many different factors, many of the weights used in the system's calculations are somewhat arbitrary. It is investigated here how the use of a statistical model might better compare the teams for ranking purposes. By treating each game played as a pairwise comparison experiment and by using the Bradley-Terry model as a starting point some suitable models are presented. A key component of the final model introduced here its ability to differentiate between friendly matches and competitive matches when determining the impact of a match on a teams ranking. Posterior distributions of the rating parameters are obtained, and the rankings and results obtained from each model are compared to FIFA's rankings and each other.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
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Hallinan, Shawn E., "Paired Comparison Models for Ranking National Soccer Teams" (2005). Masters Theses (All Theses, All Years). 741.
bradley - terry, paired comparison, bayesian statistics, Statistics, Mathematical models, Sports teams, Ranking and selection (Statistics), Soccer, Bayesian statistical decision theory