Distances traversed at the 2018 FIFA World Cup after 14 games

In May 2018, FIFA announced that Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems that comprise¬† “two optical tracking cameras located on the media tribune” will track the positional data of players and ball at the 2018 World Cup.
These data,¬†real-time positional data and video, are offered live at World Cup games on two devices: “one for the team analyst observing the match from the media tribune, another for the coaching team at the bench”.
Post-game, the positional data are made available on the FIFA World Cup website for secondary data analysis.
I have started to compile these date in a GitHub repository.
An example of the data is this matrix from the opening game of the tournament for Russian players:

The data available are:

  • Player squad number
  • Player name
  • Distance covered in metres (total; when team in possession; when team not in possession)
  • Percentage of time spent: opposition half; attacking third; penalty area)
  • Number of sprints
  • Top speed
  • Percentage of time in activity zones 1 to 5

The activity zones are defined as:

  • Zone 1: 0-7 km/h
  • Zone 2: 7-15 km/h
  • Zone 3: 15-20 km/h
  • Zone 4: 20-25 km/h
  • Zone 5: >25 km/h

After 14 games, Aleksander Golovin‘s 12,706 metres traversed remains the most distance recorded in a game by a single player.
The list of players who have covered most distance in metres per team in the games (with a link to the data) is:


Game Team Player Distance
1 Russia Golovin 12706
7 Denmark Eriksen 12262
10 Germany Kroos 11778
4 Spain Koke 11757
9 Serbia Milivojevic 11731
2 Egypt Trezeguet 11687
13 Belgium Meunier 11605
10 Mexico Herrera 11592
14 Tunisia Skhiri 11546
14 England Lingard 11379
1 Saudi Arabia Alfaraj 11323
7 Peru Yotun 11318
5 Australia Mooy 11310
11 Switzerland Dzemaili 11222
9 Costa Rica Ruiz 11179
6 Iceland Sigurdsson 11048
2 Uruguay Vecino 10875
11 Brazil Coutinho 10838
12 Korea Lee J 10789
8 Nigeria Ndidi 10701
12 Sweden Claesson 10565
4 Portugal William 10516
3 Iran Amiri 10474
5 France Kante 10461
6 Argentina Tagliaficio 10399
8 Croatia Perisic 10368
13 Panama Godoy 10295
3 Morocco Boussoufa 10068

A note about traversing
I am keen to connect 2018 technology with 1930s attempts to measure distances in sport contexts. The pioneers described movements as ‘traversing‘ and provided distance estimates.

In his doctoral thesis, Lloyd Messersmith (1942:2) shared his data from basketball collected with a measuring device “which could be used in determining distances traversed” and that provided information about “distances traversed on offense and defense, and the effect of position played on distance traversed”.
Photo Credit
FIFA World Cup (IIP Photo Archive, CC BY-SA 2.0)


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