2018 #WorldCup Referees for the last two games of the tournament

FIFA has announced the referees and officials for the last two games of the 2018 World Cup.

Alireza Faghani of Iran will referee the  match for Third Place between Belgium and England.

Nestor Pitana of Argentina will referee the Final between France and Croatia. Nestor has refereed both teams during the Knockout Phase of the tournament (Croatia v Denmark, France v Uruguay).

I have been collecting referee data from the official FIFA website. My record of Alireza and Nestor’s performances in the games they have officiated is:

Ball in Play Percentage

Their games:

Ball in Play and Fouls Awarded

Their games:

Fouls Awarded and Yellow Card Cautions

Their games:

Distances traversed by the 2018 #WorldCup Finalists

I have been looking at the player tracking data shared on the official World Cup website.

With an awareness of the limitations and potential accuracy of the data, I have compiled some basic R visualisations of the data for France and Croatia.

Going into the Final, the FIFA data suggest that in the tournament, the French team has traversed approximately 607,462 metres (a median distance per game of 102,193 metres) and Croatia 723,909 metres (a median distance per game of 118, 220 metres).

All three of Croatia’s knockout games have required extra time. In the semi final against England, Croatia traversed the most distance in any of their games (143,286 metres). In contrast, the data for France’s semi final indicate that they traversed 101,609 metres.

I have aggregated a record of each team’s tracking data on GitHub.

Three French players (Antoine Griezmann, Ngolo Kante and Paul Pogba) have tracking data of over 10,000 metres in knockout games (Antoine and Ngolo twice each and Paul once). No French player exceeded 10,000 metres in the game against Argentina.

In contrast, nine Croatian players have traversed over 10,000 metres. Marcelo Brozovic covered 16,339 metres in the game against England.

The distances traversed by players from Croatia and France are:

In terms of distance order:

Players traversing > 13000 metres per game:

Under 11,000 metres per game:

Photo Credit

Why Brozovic could be the key man for Croatia (The Times, 10 July 2018)


My R code is very basic. I am using the World Cup data to develop my use of R.

I am using R version 3.5.1 in RStudio. For the plots, I used the ggplot2 and ggrepel packages. I followed guidelines provided by Garrick Aden-Buie ( Grammar) and Kamil Slowikowski (ggrepel).

An example

#install.packages for ggplot2 and ggrepel

#df is my source file (28 observations of 5 variables)

ggplot(df, aes(Opponent, Distance, label = Player)) +
       data = subset(df, Distance > 13000),
       nudge_y = 17000 – subset(df, Distance > 13000)$Distance,
       segment.size = 0.2,
      segment.color = “grey50”,
     direction = “x”
) +
geom_point(color = ifelse(df$Distance > 13000, “red”, “black”)) +
scale_y_continuous(limits = c(10000, 17000)) +
labs(title=“World Cup Finalists 2018”, subtitle=“Distances Traversed in the Knockout Phase > 13000 Metres”, x=“Opponent”, y=“Distances Traversed Per Game (Metres)”)

Performance Data Analyst

Back in 2010, I wrote about the occupational culture of a performance analyst. The post included photographs taken of the video service room at the 2005 Canoe Slalom World Championships held at the Penrith Olympic course in Australia.

The service require a massive amount of hard wiring and included a duplicate system in case of service interruption. Memories of this event were stirred today by an advert for a performance data analyst position in British Canoe Slalom.

In the United Kingdom, canoe slalom and hockey were two early adopters of video technology. In canoe slalom, Alan Edge was at the forefront of this early adoption and some of Alan’s work is discussed by Graham Jones and Lew Hardy (1990).

I thought our work developed Alan’s original ideas twenty years on with the help of some rudimentary digital technologies.

The post advertised this week moves that work on to a different level.

The position description is:

Role and Person Summary

The primary aim of this role will be to leverage existing/new data structures and intel within the British Canoe Slalom program to improve coach-athlete knowledge of factors enhancing or detracting success in “on water” technical performance. To meet this end, we are looking for someone whom is both curious and personally driven and capable of leading video/data support at both international & domestic competitions & training environments. The candidate should have a thirst for seeking knowledge and establishing successful partnerships with key stakeholders. They must have the ability to marry video based technical information with objective numerical data across varying time domains. He/She should have the abilty to display and convey insight using appropriate visualisation tools that captures the appropriate narrative around key performance questions at both the individual athlete and group level. This will include the ability to enhance learning through the coach via ‘insight’ garnered from observational, qualitative and quantitative means.

Outside of this, the successful candidate will form part of a close knit group of successful coaches, athletes and support team which strives for excellence on a daily basis. He/she should be accepting of the need to be innovative without sacrificing the World Class basics already in place within the program.

Working Relationships

  • Head coach and other podium/podium potential coaches
  • Canoe Slalom Performance analyst
  • Canoe Slalom Physical Preparation coach
  • Canoe Slalom athlete cohort
  • EIS Sport Intelligence unit
  • EIS Performance Innovation team/external partners
  • EIS Performance Analysis/S&C teams
  • Head of Performance Support

Main Tasks and Activities

Technical priority:

  • The provision and future development of ‘in the moment’ water side video and race analytics to aid coaching feedback on technical performance.
  • Develop effective data visualisations that impacts performance decisions.
  • Manage and help develop comprehensive performance databases
  • Work alongside Canoe Slalom Physical Preparation Specialist in linking performance intel from land-based programs to on water performance.
  • Provide competition support (video and race analysis) for select international races throughout the year.
  • Assist existing performance analyst in the provision of daily analysis support within the training environment.

This role may involve training, supervising, working with and/or being in sole charge of children and young people. The successful applicant will therefore be required to apply for a disclosure from the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the CRB).  A disclosure is an impartial and confidential document that details an individual’s criminal record and where appropriate gives details of those who are banned from working with children. Having a criminal record will not necessarily be a bar to obtaining a position.

The post holder shares with all colleagues the responsibility:

for making suggestions to improve the working situation and contribute to positive employee relations within their area of work and the EIS as a whole;

to cooperate with measures introduced to ensure there is equality of opportunity in employment and sports equity; and in addition for post holders with a management responsibility to encourage their staff to ensure that they comply with all aspects of the equal opportunities in employment and sports equity policies and practices.

for ensuring that the working environment is free of sexual and racial harassment and intimidation and any other form of harassment constituting unacceptable behaviour which is personally offensive.

to comply with all aspects of the EIS Health and Safety Policy and Arrangements and, in addition, for post holders with a management responsibility to encourage their staff to ensure that they also comply with all aspects of these arrangements.

to comply with all aspects of any codes of conduct that might apply by virtue of the EIS having a presence in facilities operated by third parties.

of adhering to any professional codes of conduct appropriate to your profession or other codes of conduct that might be deemed applicable to sports science and sports medicine practitioners in general.


A qualification at degree level in computer science, sports science, biomechanics, performance analysis, engineering or a related subject. (Essential)

Post graduate degree specialising in performance / data analysis or equivalent (e.g. mathematics, computer science, bioinformatics, biomechanics, data science / analytics, engineering). (Desirable)

Essential Experience

Some experience in the provision of performance analysis support or data science to small teams with a portfolio of impacting performance (sporting or industry).

Experience of implementing innovative ‘end to end’ workflows (capture to feedback) on a range of video and data analysis platforms.

Experience of applying the appropriate scientific and statistical approaches to performance analysis and interrogation of questions (data validity, user reliability, normative profiling etc).

Experience in profiling, trend analysis, and managing data sets that systematically track, monitor and objectify performance (sporting or industry).

Experience of using appropriate data visualisation approaches to produce compelling insight to ‘land the message’ and develop ‘narratives’ with the end user.

Experience of project managing, coordinating and collaborating.

Knowledge and Skills


An understanding of the needs of high performers (elite athletes or not) and coaches/managers in a high-performing environments.

Thirst and drive to develop and implementing innovative ideas and putting them into practice, including working in an applied and integrated manner.

Ability to communicate complex data (video and numerical) in terms that are easily understood by a wide range of audiences.

Highly proficient in using data analysis, video analysis & visualisation software (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Tableau or equivalent).

Proficient skills using industry standard data analysis software’s in one of the following: Matlab, R, Python or similar.

Existing skills in fostering productive relationships with performance staff.

Ability to work both independently and within a team environments.

Ability to problem solve, work under pressure and make effective decisions.

Excellent communication and influencing skills that can motivate behavioural change and have a positive impact on performance.


Skills in querying data sets (e.g Microsoft Access, SQL) and programming languages (e.g. R, python, matlab) and understanding of databases in general.

Skills in data cleansing, structuring and manipulating multiple datasets, ‘messy’ and incomplete datasets.

Proficient knowledge and understanding of the statistical analysis of High Performance Sport.

Ability to scientifically validate and interpret the methodology of test protocols and data and other scientific data.

An understanding of the various sports science disciplines.

There is a list of other essential skills too.

An interest in sport and recognition of the importance of promoting and supporting equality, safeguarding and anti-doping within sport.

Ability to work irregular and unsocial hours as required involving work outside normal office hours, at evenings, weekends and Bank Holidays.

Ability to communicate effectively in English.

Be eligible to work within the UK.

Ability to work under pressure and prioritise own workload.

I imagine there will be lots of applications for this position. I wonder what Alan Edge might make of this iteration of his foundational work.