Goldman Sachs Crafts a 75-Page World Cup Odds Guide for, Y’know, Funsies

World Cup ball


The word “banker” in footballing is the popular slur for the blind man masquerading as a referee who’s just given the wrong side a penalty. Bet you won’t find that in Goldman Sachs’ 75-page guide to the 2010 World Cup; it’s part betting guide, part show-off–and begs the statement: “So, this is what you’re doing while the rest of the world is stumbling out of recession?” Another statement also up for begging: “Red card for whoever it was behind the guide’s cover design (see above).”

As PR stunts go, I think we can say: Goldman Sachs: 0, Rest of the World: 1.

As World Cup guides go, however, you can say it’s pretty damn phenomenal. It’s the Wall Street firm’s fourth since 1998. They’ve analyzed FIFA official rankings, the teams’ individual schedules, and a bunch of bookies’ odds, and quoted national leaders and come up with the probabilities each team has of raising the Jules Rimet trophy on July 11. And here’s the conclusion: England to win.


Yeah, so I lied. England to come fourth apparently, behind Brazil, Spain, and Germany. The U.S. is pegged in ninth place, with New Zealand, Honduras, and North Korea least likely to pick anything up. There’s also a bunch of football quotations, trivia, and interminable stats about the nations in the final, with pithy headlines such as “Spain: Leading in Football, Lagging in the Economy.” And Pretty Good on the Gastronomic Front, if I might say it myself.

As an added bonus, the report states:

Former South
African Central Bank Governor Tito Mboweni discusses the host nation’s
chances, aided by the football analytical skills of his nephew! Russian
Deputy Prime Minister Shuvalov tells us what it is like for Russia not
to be in South Africa—and expresses his hopes for a World Cup in Russia
in 2018. We also have a very interesting contribution from one of our
former partners, Carlos Cordeiro, on why the 2022 competition should be
held in the US. And, to keep it all fair and balanced, Andy Anson, CEO
of England’s 2018 World Cup bid, states his case.

I did send a nice lady in the Goldman Sachs’ press office some questions, in order to find out why they had put out this guide, and what its purpose or value was to either its employees or clients. However, I think my final questions might have foxed her: “What would you say to the theory that, deep down, you are hoping that North Korea wins, because you’ve put all your money on the team’s victory and you’ll get an amazing return. Do you have secret information that Kim Jong Il is going to torpedo the cup final ball?”


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About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S


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