Relationships between soccer and politics have been well established at the international as well as the domestic level. As a scholar of international relations, I decided to root for teams in this year's World Cup out of loyalty to the scholars, students, and universities who have invested in my career.
A fun, but absurd rule, of course.
Yet, it's record speak for itself:
Correctly predicted: 29
Incorrectly predicted: 5
(A note to purists: I didn't attempt to predict ties or final scores - I was just having fun by choosing a side to root for.)
So, does contributing to my career help countries do better in soccer? Or perhaps good soccer makes countries want to help my career?
The connection is, of course, spurious. But it's not accidental that my win-loss ratio was nearly 6:1.
See, countries with large, rich populations are more likely (1) to have better athletic teams and (2) to have more developed universities.
When it comes to soccer, it works something like this:
First, how many people does your country have? More people, more chances at having talented athletes.
Second, how rich is your country? More money, better investment in the health and performance of your athletes.
Third, how much does your country care? More interest in soccer, the more of the population and the income you'll put into the sport.
An interesting study presents evidence of the above, and also argues that having democracy helps. The latter is interesting because it goes against the literature on Olympic Games, which argues that Communist Dictatorships have the edge.
Cultural preference for soccer is measured by the strength of club teams, but one might also consider other measures, like the percentage of children playing soccer, soccer fields/balls per capita, government support of the sport, and which sports pay their professional athletes the most.
Another factor that has been shown to help in the Olympics, soccer, and basketball is home-team advantage.
Finally, getting into how specific athletes play, Miguel, Saiegh, and Satyanath show that players who have lived through civil wars are more likely to commit violence on the soccer field.
All of that said, my absurd rule predicted a few upsets that the econometric studies did not.
For example, thanks to the investments that ETH Zurich has made in my career, my rule correctly predicted Switzerland's victory over Spain (where I also have a wonderful affiliation at ESADE, but the ETH connection has a deeper history).
I also predicted that France would lose to both South Africa and Mexico (I've never been invited to France to give a talk, but South Africa and Mexico have both hosted me).
And thanks to my Uruguayan colleagues, Diego Aboal and Juan Andrés Moraes, who translated and published a piece I wrote about their country, I correctly predicted Uruguay over South Africa and Mexico.
Most importantly, I correctly predicted USA moving to the next round! (Who's invested more in my career than my home country?! Go NYU! Go Yale! Go UCLA! Go Georgetown!)
For those of you looking to find ways of getting invited to all these great countries, might I suggest a career in international relations? Georgetown University is a great place to start!
For those of you just looking to waste time, I present all of my picks below, complete with the rationales off of my Curriculum Vitae. The bottom line is this: If France would like to make it to the second round in 2014, I suggest they start inviting me to visit their universities! (Please forward to scholars in France ;-)
South Africa v. Mexico
This is a tossup for me. I've given talks in both countries. Mexico has figured much more in my research (10 references to 5 for S Africa in the 2007 book). Plus, I used to work with the former President of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, when I was at Yale. Yet, I have a South African co-author, Peter Rosendorff...
I have to break slightly in favor of South Africa.
Uruguay v. France
Another tossup. I studied abroad in France and worked there for a summer. But I have actually been published in an edited volume in Uruguay (in Spanish)... and I wrote the chapter about Uruguay and the IMF. Easy call for me.
June 12: Korea v. Greece
This is an easy choice for me. Though I recently was interviewed in a Greek newspaper, last summer I taught at Korea University for 6 weeks.
Argentina v. Nigeria
Another easy choice - Just got back from teaching 2 weeks in Argentina - plus I did a conference there in 2002.
England v. USA:
Obvious. With regrets to my beloved co-author, Alastair Smith...
Algeria v. Slovenia
This one is a tossup. I haven't had any real contact with these countries in my career... so I'm going by how many times they appear in the index of my 2007 book. Slovenia gets the edge 2 times to 1.
Serbia v. Ghana
Another match with countries I haven't had direct contact with. But I talk about Ghana in 3 places in my 2007 book; only mention Serbia twice.
Germany V. Australia
So, here are two countries that have both been good to me. I have a research affiliation with Bond University in Gold Coast, Australia. But I am currently a visiting researcher at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, and I just finished a conference at Tubingen - and I have written about 5 papers with 4 German co-authors (Dreher, Klasen, Gassebner, and Lamla), so...
Netherlands v. Denmark
Easy call for me to make. I have 2 publications with my beloved co-author, Jan-Egbert Sturm. (And we're working on a third paper right now...)
Plus, well, my name is *Vreeland* after all:
Japan v. Cameroon
No question that Japan has figured larger in my research than Cameroon. I'm actually working on two papers right now that deal directly with Japan's foreign policy interests. Still, I am still waiting for an invitation to visit a Japanese university... but in the meantime:
Italy v. Paraguay
Another easy call. I have worked with two Italian co-authors: Silvia Marchesi & Paolo Spada.
New Zealand v. Slovakia
Oh jeez - neither of these countries have figured much in my research. I only mention Slovakia once in my book. Amazingly, New Zealand appears nowhere (which surprised me - I thought I mentioned every country at least once...)
Cote d'Ivoire v. Portugal
Another pair of countries where I haven't been invited... although there may be something in the works for Portugal. Meantime, both countries appear 3 times in my book. To break the tie, I go to the index of my 2003 book, where Portugal appears twice and Cote d'Ivoire not at all.
Brazil v. North Korea
Easy choice. Between co-author Ze Cheibub and a visit to the University of São Paulo arranged by my friend & colleague Fernando Limongi, I'm with Brazil on this one!
South Africa v. Uruguay
Published on Uruguay in an edited volume in Uruguay. Visited South Africa on a trip paid for by the South African Finance Ministry.
Breaking slightly in favor of Uruguay
Honduras v. Chile
Neither country has done much for my career. But both appear in my 2007 book. 6 times to 3 times.
Spain v. Switzerland
I'm affiliated with ESADE in Spain, and have given talks there and at IBEI. But ETH has done so much for my career! I've been a visiting research there many times, and I've given about 9 talks throughout Switzerland and have even appeared in the press there. Plus, I just wrote a paper on Swiss foreign aid.
Schweiz! Suisse! Svizzera!
France v. Mexico
Studied abroad in France in 1992 and worked there for a summer. But what have you done for me lately? I gave a talk in Mexico at CIDE in el Distrito Federal in November 2005. It was an amazing trip!
Argentina v. Korea
Yikes. I attended my first international conference at Di Tella in Buenos Aires in 2002. And I just finished teaching a class as the Universidad Nacional de San Martín. I love Buenos Aires!
But I also taught last summer in Seoul for 6 weeks at Korea University. I love Seoul!
I just don't know who to pick...
Korea U. pays better, but also demands more teaching time.
Argentina appears 7 times in my 2007 index. Korea only 3 times.
Korea appears 3 times in my 2003 index. Argentina not at all.
I have wonderful colleagues and students from both countries.
Looks like I need to go to the "citation rule"
Who has cited me more according to ISI Web of Knowledge?
One from Minzee Kim - that's a point for Korea.
One from Seonjou Kang - that's 2 points for Korea.
One from Jong-Wha Lee - that's 3 points for Korea.
Books are not linked to references on ISI, so for the book, I go to Google Scholar:
One from Sebastian Saiegh - 1 point for Argentina!
One from Vicky Murillo - 2 points for Argentina...
One from Maria Soledad Martinez Peria - 3 points for Argentina... (this is more exciting to me than actual soccer...)
Another cite from Seonjou Kang - 4 points for Korea!
Another cite from Saiegh - 4 points for Argentina - these countries are really battling!
Chi Wook Kim: 5 points for Korea...
Yong Kyun Ki: 6 points for Korea!
My friend Hye Jee Cho from UCLA - 7 points for Korea... they're running away with it!
Byungwon Woo - 8 for Korea!
Another from Murillo: 5 points for Argentina - they're not giving up!
Another from Woo - 9 for Korea. Relentless.
So that's it - I'm with Korea.
And since Argentina is the favorite, I'll most likely have chances to root for them in future rounds. For now, so I'm going with:
RESULT: ARGENTINA (2ND LOSS***)
Greece v. Nigeria
Nigeria was a case in my 2003 book, and appeared 4 times in my 2007 book. Greece only 3 times. Yet, a Greek newspaper recently did a really nice interview with me about the IMF where they flattered me by saying I was a foremost expert on the subject. Flattery will get you everywhere... Plus, I co-authored a magazine article with Harris Mylonas.
Slovenia v. USA
2-2 (horrible referee call - this should have been a win!)
England v. Algeria
Co-authored with Alastair Smith in 2006.
Germany v. Serbia
0-1 (3RD LOSS***)
Ghana v. Australia
Australia hosted me for 2 weeks at Bond University, where I am a research affiliate.
Netherlands v. Japan
Dutch co-author trumps. And did I mention my wonderful colleague, Erik Voeten?
Cameroon v. Denmark
Neither. But Denmark appears 4 times in my book index, Cameroon only twice.
Slovakia v. Paraguay
Neither. Book index indicates more support for:
Italy v. New Zealand
Brazil v. Cote d'Ivoire
Co-author + visit to USP =
Portugal v North Korea
Again - 2 countries who have done nothing for my career. But let's face it - Portugal is more of a possibility.
Chile v Switzerland
Easy choice for me. Go KOF, Go ETH, Go Zurich...
RESULT: CHILE ***4TH LOSS
Spain v Honduras
Another easy choice - Go ESADE...
France v South Africa
France, what have you done for me lately?
Qui veut-dire recemment
Je veux que tu arretes de men-
tir! (MC James)
Go South Africa!
RESULT: SOUTH AFRICA
Mexico v Uruguay
Yikes - tough call. Gave a talk in Mexico. Published in Uruguay.
Greece v Argentina
Nigeria v South Korea
Global KU Frontier Spirit!
Slovenia v England
United States v Algeria
Australia v Serbia
Ghana v Germany
Cameroon v Netherlands
Denmark v Japan
Paraguay v New Zealand
Index rule says...
Slovakia v Italy
RESULT: SLOVAKIA (?)
North Korea v Ivory Coast
Neither country has done me any favors. Both appear the same # of times in the 2007 book. Neither appears in the 2003 book. I like the North Korea flag better, but I study the IMF and North Korea is not even a member.
Go Cote d'Ivoire.
RESULT: COTE D'IVOIRE
Portugal v Brazil
Go USP! Go BRAZIL!
Chile v Spain
Go ESADE! Go Spain!
Switzerland v Honduras
GO ETH! Go Switzerland!