SMS scnews item created by Uri Keich at Fri 14 May 2010 1542
Type: Seminar
Distribution: World
Expiry: 21 May 2010
Calendar1: 21 May 2010 1400-1500
CalLoc1: Carslaw 173
Auth: uri@purix (assumed)

# Statistics Seminar: Gery Geenens -- Who deserved the 2008-2009 Belgian Football Champion title? A semiparametric answer

Gery Geenens Department of Statistics University of New South Wales

Location: Carslaw 173

Time: 2pm Friday, May 21, 2010

Title: Who deserved the 2008-2009 Belgian Football Champion title? A semiparametric

Abstract: Football (/soccer/) is certainly the most popular sport in Belgium.  In
2008-2009, the Belgian premier league, the so-called /Jupiler Pro League/, was made up
of 18 teams, each having played others twice, home and away.  Wins and draws earned 3
points and 1 point, respectively, and teams were ranked by total points and then by
total wins only, regardless of the goal difference (or the number of goals scored)
contrary to most European leagues.  Obviously, the Belgian Champion should have been the
team which ended the season on top of the ranking, but a very unlikely event happened:
the first two teams, Sporting Anderlecht and Standard Liege, completed the season with
exactly the same number of points (77) and the same number of victories (24).  Although
the goal difference would have been favorable to Anderlecht, an extraordinary playoff
match was hastily organized to decide the championship, and Standard ended up winning,
after plenty of twists and turns.  That dramatic denouement keeps on sustaining the
discussions among the large football-lover part of the Belgian population and lets open
the interrogation: which team was really the best? The aim of this talk is to
objectively investigate this question through statistical modeling.  Given the results
of the whole season, we fit a semiparametric model for the conditional probabilities of
home win, tie and away win for each match, given the involved teams and other relevant
explanatory variables.  Note that the semiparametric nature of our model grants it a
great flexibility and allows to identify interesting and up to now ignored patterns in
the above probabilities.  Then, a large number of Monte-Carlo simulations are run, as if
the season was replayed a large number of times, which permits the estimation of
absolute probabilities of many events of possible interest.  In particular, clear
evidence about the team which really deserved the 2008-2009 Belgian football champion
title appears.


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