Phylogenetic network of the FIFA World Cup

The FIFA competition has been played every 4 years since 1930, except 1942 and 1946. Morrison et al. have analised how the number of teams competing has changed dramatically over the years (13-204), as has the number of teams accepted into the finals (13-32). They prepared some extraordinary graphics showing interesting results.

There have been several attempts to provide visualizations of the relative success of the different national teams at the FIFA World Cup competitions (Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup™). This is quite a complex task, because there have been 19 competitions so far, and at least 74 teams have competed in the finals at least once. The relationships between these teams represent a network within each competition, based on their relative success at the games they play, and this network changes through time across the various competitions. Here, I review some of the previous network analyses, and then I present a combined analysis of all of the competitions based on a phylogenetic network

Given the 80 years over which the competitions have been held, there have been some changes in the political entities that the teams represent. Confusion over this issue affects some of the graphs shown below. For example, FIFA officially attributes the various results as follows:
(i) all West Germany results go to Germany (leaving 1 finals result for East Germany);
(ii) all Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro results are attributed to Serbia (since the break-up, both Croatia and Slovenia have reached the finals independently)… 

By D Morrison, L van Iersel, S Kelk, M Charleton

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