Soccernomics: Brazilian Economists Have A Formula To Predict World Cup Qualifiers


SANTIAGO - With the World Cup coming to South America in 2014, the soccer-crazed continent is already worrying who will qualify, and who will be forced to stay at home and watch the others soak up the glory.

Well, if you are an Argentinian, Chilean, or Uruguayan, your team is going to be among those competing in Brazil’s World Cup two years from now. At least that is what a group of macroeconomists from Banco Itaú, a Brazilian bank, say, América Economía reports.

The method used by the group, led by economist Caio Megale, is based on the assumption that since 1998, when the current elimination system was introduced, all teams with a win rate of over 70 percent qualified for the tournament, whereas all teams with a win rate less than 30 percent did not.

“From that information, we are calculating the probability of participation in the tournament based on projections of performances in the elimination rounds, giving teams with a higher than 70 percent win rate a 100 percent chance of being in the tournament, and using a non-linear regression down to 0 percent chances of participating in the tournament for teams with less than 30 percent win rate,” the economics team explained.

Based on data from the rounds that have already been played it looks like Argentina, Uruguay and Chile are fairly certain of playing in Brazil, where there are four spots for South American teams, not including Brazil that qualifies automatically as host.

Colombia is on the brink, with a win rate of only 44 percent. The only possible surprise is if Ecuador, currently trailing behind Colombia, maintains its performance and knocks out the Colombians. Ecuador, it’s time to invest in some goals!

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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