Document Type thesis Author Name Hallinan, Shawn E. URN etd-050505-154305 Title Paired Comparison Models for Ranking National Soccer Teams Degree MS Department Mathematical Sciences Advisors Andrew W. Swift, Advisor Keywords bradley - terry paired comparison bayesian statistics Date of Presentation/Defense 2005-05-05 Availability unrestricted
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.
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