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Football Predictions: Is it Science or Hoax?

15th June 2020

Predictions and Statistics are deeply interwoven with each other since the dawn of human civilization. Since statistics and probability needed advanced knowledge of mathematical equations, therefore it baffled the common masses who sought these predictions of events as something out of this world or magical. Statistics can be defined as a defined discipline that primarily deals with data and its collection, interpretation, analysis, organization along with the presentation.


In the modern world, statistics kind of rules every aspect of our daily lives from the weather forecast to share market predictions. A field where the knowledge of statistics and probability is highly revered is the predictions of football matches. While team wins apparently seem to be the only reason for the demand, another area that has due consideration in this regard is the football betting market like the German Bundesliga predictions.


Statistics as a football prediction tool

The answer to the question of whether football prediction is science or hoax is quite simple. Sheer science is used to predict the results of various football matches that are played all around the world. Predicting the results of the football matches is a rapidly growing academic branch in the field of statistics. Football betting markets’ efficiency has quite piqued the interest of the Economists as well.


The heady combo of statisticians and economists in the area of football predictions has a huge impact on the football betting market. The primary fodder of these predictions includes the past and archived data of each team’s win, loss, and relative performance over a defined period. Together they form various models that form the laying foundation of the bookmakers’ call and hence the betting industry in general.


Methodologies implemented in Football Predictions

The most common method by which the prediction of any game is done is via the process of ranking. Ranking of any team is done based on their performance data with a stipulated amount of time. The strongest teams have higher ranking while the weaker ones have lower ranks. When two teams play against each other, the prediction favors the team with a higher ranking. Some of the famous ranking systems include World Football Elo Ratings, FIFA World Rankings, etc.


Another widely accepted method of prediction is rating. Rating is a bit different from ranking as its approach is segregated into different areas of the game like strengths concerning their attack or defense strategies. It also focuses on the performance of individual players as opposed to the whole team in case of ranking. Predictions based on ratings tend to be more accurate since they do not consider average statistics.


Ranking and rating have a more or less cumulative approach towards the teams or players’ performance. Therefore, the predictions made on their basis often fail to have a holistic perspective on the accuracy of the game predictions. While the factors of rating and ranking form the elementary foundation of football predictions, the accuracy is determined by three other factors, namely:


●       Regression Algorithm

●       Type of the tournament played, knockout, league, etc.

●       Time dependence


Some of the most common methods of football predictions where all these factors are considered to include:


●       Time Independent Least Squares Rating (TILS)

●       Time-Dependent Markov Chain (TDMC)

●       Time Independent Poisson Regression (TIPR)

●       Time Independent Skellam Regression (TISR)

●       Time-Dependent Poisson Regression


All of these methods implement complex models and equations for the game prediction process.


Incorporation of predictions in the betting market

By now, you might have understood how well the betting market is affected by the nature of the predictions. Depending on the methods of predictions as described above many prediction models are created, some of which are reserved for the football betting industry. Using these models, a bookmaker sets the odds at some real value to define if a game can be won, lost, or drawn.


There is a catch to using these models. An expert in the field would never blindly trust these models to set up the odds. They would use their valuable experience in the field to adjust the odds along with the extra information that could be wrung from these models. Needless to mention, more accuracy incurs a higher profit.


Another set of professionals that benefit highly from the prediction models are the bettors. Classically, bettors are the individuals who gamble their money on predicting the wins and losses in football matches. However, with the advent of the betting market, several companies have evolved to help individuals with tips to win money while charging an amount for their services.


Use of Artificial Intelligence in Football Predictions

In today’s technically advanced world, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are considered as the blue-eyed boys of the technological evolution. Just like every other aspect of human life, AI and ML have invaded and won the space of football prediction and betting markets as well.


It is common knowledge that AI and ML use and analyze existing data to perform the task provided. Given the nature of football prediction where data handling is quite an important part, AI and ML have easily taken up the game of predictions with the aid of advanced algorithms and statistical formulae.


Does prediction affect the spirit of the game?

The answer to this question cannot be provided in a simple statement. It must be remembered that the spirit of the game is not harbored by a single individual alone but by a group of individuals that comprise a team. One cannot define how an individual would be affected by the prediction in a team and how the team would respond cumulatively to any prediction. 


However, when the factor of the betting market comes into the picture there have been many instances where players were swayed by bookmakers in exchange for money to lose the game spirit and work for personal monetary gains. Therefore, while predictions and betting are fun, they should never interfere with the game or the players’ performances. Many countries have incorporated specific rules for sports betting so that it does not interfere with the game.


Posted by Mark at 4:36pm

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