Professor Stephen Hawking solves the mystery of how England can win the World Cup
Published 28/05/2014 | 11:24
Professor Stephen Hawking today revealed research into the ideal conditions for World Cup success, including the ‘perfect penalty’.
The English physicist’s ‘General Logistic Regression Modelling’ report was revealed at a Paddy Power press conference in London today, offering his fellow countrymen valuable insights into how to maximise their chances in Brazil.
The professor took a swipe at Luis Suarez, describing him as a ballerina, as well as conceding that when it comes to spot-kicks, England couldn’t hit a “cows arse with a banjo.”
The month long study was commissioned by the Irish bookmaker to examine previous World Cup performances and results to pinpoint the ideal conditions for success and the best way to take a penalty.
“I always saw Paddy Power as slightly anti-intellectual but by inviting me to be a pundit, they have proved me wrong,” he said.
“They recognised that as a theoretical physicist I’m marginally more qualified to make predictions than Paul the Octopus.”
England’s record on the biggest stage has been blighted by under-par performances and penalty woes, so the mathematical genius and theoretical physicist was chosen as the ideal person to analyse the key factors which have affected England’s World Cup performances in their 45 finals games since 1966.
The resulting scientific model was then used to help predict the probability of England winning key matches in Brazil this summer.
“I have answered two of the biggest questions tormenting fans,” the professor said. “What are the optimal conditions for England success? And how do you score in a penalty shootout?”
Professor Hawking and his research team found that the key variables that effected England winning a match were stadium temperature, stadium altitude, the nationality of the referee, the colour of the team’s shirt and team formation.
Roy Hodgson may be keen to learn that a 4-3-3 formation is statistically more successful, while a red jersey makes a team feel more confident.
A European referee would improve England chances considerably, with 63pc of games are won with a European referee compared to 38pc when the referee is from elsewhere.
“European referees are more sympathetic to the English game and less sympathetic to ballerinas like Suarez.”
Not surprisingly, temperature will play a big part in South America. A 5C rise in temperature reduces England’s chances of winning by 59pc, while a 3 o’clock local time improves the chances of winning by a third.
Hawking then discussed the findings into the perfect penalty, while also displaying a sense of humour.
“I have studied all shootouts since they were introduced at the 1978 World Cup to have a formula for the perfect penalty,” he said.
“As we say in science, England ‘couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo’.”
Hawking’s research indicated there are five variables that affect the probability of scoring a penalty during a shootout: player position, the length of the run up, where on the boot the ball was kicked from, the player’s hair type and where the ball was aimed.
Forwards have the best scoring rate (81pc), with defenders the worst (65pc), while blonde-haired players are the most prolific from the spot.
The professor also suggested that power is key as there is only a 58pc probability of scoring if your run-up is three steps or under, while 84pc of penalties in the top corner go in, while goalkeepers.
Hawking also had advice for England’s goalkeeper Joe Hart should he be forced into action from the penalty spot.
“Distract the penalty taker,” he suggested.
“Jump from side to side and you are 18pc more likely to make a save. Who would want to be a keeper?”
“As Ruud Guillt once said “a goalkeeper is a goalkeeper because he can’t play football”.
Despite conceding that he is not a big football fan, Hawking said that he believes the host nation will triumph this summer.
“You would be a fool to overlook Brazil. Hosts have won over 30pc of the World Cups.”
“As we know from the study, there are significant environmental and psychological benefits of being close to home.”