Irish bookmaker, Paddy Power, asked legendary physicist and cosmologist professor Steven Hawking, to spend a month studying England’s performance at previous World Cup tournaments and draw some conclusions as to what are the factors that can affect the game in a positive way this summer.
Hawking is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist and is currently the Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at University of Cambridge.
He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and he was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, position previously occupied by Isaac Newton. Also, who knows, maybe Hawking is going to be future Nobel Prize winner.
Hawking is not the most obvious person we would expect to see in the gambling news, but Paddy Power managed to convince him to take part in this project and make an attempt to quantify what are the factors that influence England’s game during previous World Cup tournaments.
Paddy Power’s spokesman commented that he had not expected the world-famous scientist to accept the project: “We thought there was a 1% chance he’d say yes. But he did. I was totally surprised.”
The bookmaker gives England odds at 100/1 to win the cup this summer and Hawking presented some ideas how the team’s game may improve, based on the observations from previous years’ performances.
The event presenting the results took place in Savoy Hotel in London and it was more than successful, which wasn’t a surprise to anyone having in mind who was giving the speech.
Hawking began with: “Ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. The World Cup is no different.”
Phenomenal scientist Steven Hawking conducted study on England’s team performance at World Cup tournaments for Paddy Power
• He concluded that England needs to wear its red gear
• Play 4-3-3, preferably in the afternoon
• Avoid referees from South America
In order to come up with any conclusions regarding the best conditions for England to perform well, Hawking and his team looked into 45 World Cup games, which England played since its only World Cup trophy, won in 1966.
Another particular interest was taken into the team’s penalty shots, as this is one of England’s biggest problems.
Professor Hawking explained that the factors, which have effect on the team’s performance, were categorized in 5 areas – psychological, environmental, political, physiological and tactical.
He gave details that when it comes to the psychological part of it England performed better wearing its red outfit, clarifying that the most probable reason is the fact that players feel more confident and look more aggressive.
On a tactical note, England usually plays 4-4-2, but it seems that 4-3-3 was a bit more successful in the past with 58% of the games won in comparison to 48% in the first configuration, shows the study.
When it comes to the problem penalties, England had lost every time when the game had to be decided by penalties during the World Cup. Hawking gave the usual advice for success at penalty shoots and added that speed is also very important: “Get a run-up of more than three steps. Give it some welly.”
According to Hawking, the environmental impact on England’s game is quite huge. He added: “The impact of environmental factors alone is quite staggering. A five-degree [centigrade] rise in temperature reduces our chances of winning by 59%.”
Moreover: “We are twice as likely to win when playing less than 500 meters above sea level and our chances of winning improve by a third when kicking off at 15.00 local time.”
Hawking’s prognosis regarding the group stage was: “The game in Belo Horizonte against Costa Rica is the best of a bad bunch, with England’s opener in Manaus against Italy the most difficult. The searing temperature and late kick-off are far from ideal.”
Everyone who bet on sports in the UK, and thinks that Italy will win the game against the UK has a chance to grab some cash, as Paddy Power gives the Azzurri 13/8 for victory.
Paddy Power spokesman refused to name the exact sum that the bookmaker paid the famous scientist, but Hawking explained that he donated the received money between two charities – one for the children in Syria and the other one to foundation researching motor neuron disease, which is his condition.
Hawking confessed that he is neither football fan, nor tempted by betting: “Shouting at the television is not for me, but each to his own.”
When he was asked to name the favorite team for this year’s World Cup, he mentioned the advantage Brazil has as a host: “I’m sure they have enough quality to lift the World Cup for the sixth time.”