The Football World Cup this month is no doubt the biggest competition of the year. But of course, this is a team sport, so to be competitive, you also have to be co-operative.
The idea of co-operating in order to compete is well known in the co-op sector worldwide, where it is understood what values are needed in order to support cultures and behaviours of co-operation.
We do have data on the extent to which co-operative values hold across different countries, thanks to the World Values Survey. Last year, I collaborated with the wonderful Tom Crompton of Common Cause Foundation, publishing a report he authored on The International Prevalence of Co-operative Values.
So, without being in any way an expert on football (quite the opposite, recalling my days playing for the one English team, Turnpike Lane, in a Latin American football league on Clapham Common in London), I have run the data to ask the question: if the national strength in terms of values of co-operation was reflected in the national football team and their co-operation as a team defined their chances of success… who would win?
Here are the group stage results, with two winners from each group:
Here are the results of the first round of the knockout stages:
Iceland beat France
Uruguay beat Morocco
Brazil beat Sweden
Panama beat Poland
Spain beat Saudi Arabia
Argentina beat Denmark
Costa Rica beat Mexico
England beat Colombia
In the quarter finals, Uruguay win through (over Iceland) to meet Brazil in the first semi final (over Panama), while Spain win through (over Argentina) and England squeak through with a narrow win over Costa Rica.
Some of the quarter finals, as it happens, fall on the United Nations International Day of Co-operatives, Saturday July 7th – which takes place worldwide under the theme of Sustainable societies through cooperation – as well as the culmination of Co-operatives Fortnight here in the UK.
The finalists are then Brazil and Spain…
…and the winner is Brazil.
You could say that there were flaws – pretty deep flaws – in the modelling. Footballing skills in particular are not a factor, and that has always held my country, England, back. Don’t put any money on my forecast.
But as a light look at the wonderful skills of co-operation and teamwork on display, it is a reminder of something important.
We succeed when we find good ways to work together.