One of the most unfortunate developments of modern football, and a clear symptom of the decline of civilization, is the regrettable irruption in the comments of a deluge of factoids that manage to simultaneously give a bad name to team sports and to statistics (“This is the first time in twenty-one competitive games played in the Southern Hemisphere that a French Number 10 player’s backward pass from the left foot has been intercepted by a Dutch player born in Amsterdam”). Roger Couderc certainly did not need this to make a game come to life (of course, technically, he was advantaged by the fact that he was commenting the much greater game of Rugby).

I am waiting impatiently for a more refined approach that will include meta-statistics:

Did you know? France has never lost a game where a single US-based newspaper presented more than three human-interest stories concerning the opposing team players in the three days before the game.

Did you know? It is the first time since the invention of the personal computer that the BBC has listed more than 243 statistical facts about a game.

Did you know? Three out of four statistical facts about the Italy-Switzerland game have involved numbers larger than thirteen.

These will be the days…

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I am a professor of mathematics at ETH Zürich since 2008.

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