BEHIND THE DESK: Clashing figures; who is right?

FOOTBALL - When Gaël Bigirimana netted for Newcastle United tonight, he was the first citizen of Burundi to score a Premier League goal. That made the African country the 89th to produce a Premier League goalscorer, according to Infostrada Sports. According to Opta Sports (@OptaJoe) it was only the 87th. Who is right?


More than meets the eye

Whenever two professional sports data bureaus like Infostrada Sports and Opta Sports disagree, it will hardly ever be because of the fact that one (or even both) ‘missed something or somebody’ entirely. Companies like these strive for 99.9% data accuracy. So, what is it then? Maybe it is a matter of definition.

How do we define a country?

Defining a country is much more complex than you would think at first. Are England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland separate countries? We would say ‘yes’. After all, they all have their own national team. What about Germany, former Eastern Germany, West Germany..? Our work for the IOC has made us create six different forms of ‘Germany’ when we supplied data for the London Olympic Games last summer. In the public eye, that might just be one country: Germany.

Players changing nationalities

At Infostrada Sports, we usually let the senior national team that the player has represented most recently, determine his/her nationality. Should that player not have played for his/her country, then country of birth usually serves as the default. What to do with a player that changes nationalities or plays for different national teams?

Players with multiple nationalities

What about player A, who has been born in Senegal, has never represented his country’s national teams, but has played for France’s youth national sides? Of course, people can always apply for citizenship in another country than where they born, regardless if they have represented any national side.

Challenge 

We will always embrace a challenge to show that we are right, or at least how much effort we put into it, but we can hardly ever explain the difference between us and a conflicting source. In this case, we do not have Opta’s data or insight into their definitions. We are quite sure that they will be adamant about the correctness of their figures. As we are. They are a serious company, and so are we.