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)”)

Refereeing in Fourteen #WorldCup Knockout Games

There are just two games to go in the 2018 World Cup.

I have been following Refereeing World during the tournament but have not yet discovered the final two referee appointments for Third/Fourth place game and the Final.

My record of officiating in the Knockout Phase (14 games played) defined by percentage of ball in play time is:

Games completed in normal time (n=9) (colour code of dots is for fouls awarded):

By Referee:

By Game:

Games completed after extra time (n=5) (colour code of dots is for fouls awarded):

By Referee:

By Game:

Based on the data from this tournament, if the choice of referee was independent of the politics of appointment, my choice for World Cup Final referee is Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands). Three of the four games he has refereed exceeded 63% ball in play . The Sweden v England Game was 59%.