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Australia's Technological World Cup Advantage 343

hotsauce writes "The BBC has a piece about how Australia is using software to gain an advantage in the World Cup. The Socceroos are running software that looks for patterns in attacks of the opposing team. It also shows the effectiveness of different response strategies by recording where attacks fail when countered. This is the first time Australia has reached the World Cup in 30 years, but a real test of the technology will come today when Australia must take on five-time and current world champions Brasil. The Socceroos talk about specific strategies for that game, also."
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Australia's Technological World Cup Advantage

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  • by IntelliAdmin ( 941633 ) * on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:27PM (#15558675) Homepage
    This piece reminds me of the software that the music industry invented, or possibly it was clear channel here in the usa that would listen to new songs and be able to pick out 'hits'. I agree that software in the world cup *might* help strategy, But I think many times it becomes a crutch that makes people lazy.

    Windows Admin Tools []
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They lost.
    • Sounds good? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by yfnET ( 834882 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:30PM (#15558693) Homepage
      Technology Quarterly []

      Sounds good?
      Jun 8th 2006
      From The Economist print edition

      Software: “Music intelligence” systems that can distinguish hits from misses could change the way pop music is made and marketed

      IMAGE []

      THE versificator, a machine described in George Orwell’s novel “1984”, automatically generated music for the hapless masses. The idea of removing humans from the creative process of making music, an art form so able to stir the soul, made for a good joke when the book was published in 1949. But today, computer programmers working in a new field called “music intelligence” are developing software capable of predicting which songs will become hits. This surprisingly accurate technology could profoundly change the way pop music is created.

      The software uses a process called “spectral deconvolution” to isolate and analyse around 30 parameters that define a piece of music, including such things as sonic brilliance, octave, cadence, frequency range, fullness of sound, chord progression, timbre and “bend” (variations in pitch at the beginning and end of the same note). “Songs conform to a limited number of mathematical equations,” says Mike McCready of Platinum Blue, a music-intelligence company based in New York, that he founded last December. Platinum Blue has compiled a database of more than 3m successful musical arrangements, including data on their popularity in different markets.

      To the human ear, music has changed a lot over the years. Music-intelligence software, however, can reveal striking similarities in the underlying parameters of two songs from different eras that, even to a trained ear, seem unrelated. According to Platinum Blue’s software, called Music Science, for example, a number of hit songs by U2 have a close kinship to some of Beethoven’ s compositions. If a song written today has parameters similar to those of a number of past hits, it could well be a hit too.

      Carlos Quintero, a producer and remixer at Orixa Producciones in Madrid, recently tried out another music-intelligence system, called Hit Song Science (HSS). “It practically left me in shock, it’s stunning,” he says. Mr Quintero’s production company now has the most promising demo songs it receives from aspiring musicians evaluated by Polyphonic HMI, the Barcelona-based developer of HSS and Platinum Blue’s only serious competitor. (Both companies perform analyses in-house, rather than selling software.) The results—consisting of a graph, numerical scores, computer-generated comments and suggested changes—help Orixa’s managers decide which songs to produce. Then, during the recording and post-production phases, Orixa uses HSS to reanalyse successive versions of each track for fine-tuning.

      Belief in music intelligence is spreading, as Polyphonic HMI and Platinum Blue rack up bull’s-eye predictions of success, including “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent, “Be the Girl” by Aslyn, “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield, “She Says” by Howie Day, and “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt. Still, labels that use music intelligence generally prefer to keep quiet about it, so non-disclosure agreements are common. “No one wants people to think their decisions are coming from a box,” says Ric Wake, an American producer of two Grammy-winning acts who routinely employs Music Science. Even so, the names of many customers have leaked out. They include Capitol Records, Universal Music Group, Sony Music, EMI and Casablanca Records. Labels sometimes don’t tell even their established artists when they use music intelligence to help decide which singles to promote.

      Revenues at Polyphonic HMI will exce
      • Re:Sounds good? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Tablizer ( 95088 )
        THE versificator, a machine described in George Orwell's novel "1984", automatically generated music for the hapless masses.

        We have the same thing today. It is called a "Britney Spears".

        a number of hit songs by U2 have a close kinship to some of Beethoven' s compositions. If a song written today has parameters similar to those of a number of past hits, it could well be a hit too.

        Beethoven barely scraped by in his day. Many consider his music too far ahead of its time to be appreciated in its time, which
        • Actually, American Idol is the most amazing example of intelligent marketing I've ever seen. You take a bunch of holefuls willing to do anything and throw them on TV, and wait for who everyone thinks is best. Then, you move on to the next one. It's like a Factory Pattern for creating celebrities that have no real content. Amaaaazing.
    • by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:58PM (#15558765) Journal
      I agree that software in the world cup *might* help strategy, But I think many times it becomes a crutch that makes people lazy

      I *DOES* help strategy, NFL teams have been using similar techniques for years to analyze what their opponents might do in a given situation. This is especially critical in American Football, where the defenses don't have time to react to what is actually happening in that instant the ball is hiked. Its the difference between stopping a play in the backfield or giving up a 6 yard play. In soccer, being able to anticipate where a play is going could reduce the amount of running a team has to do, keeping players fresher and getting them into position sooner. This would yield a pretty good advantage, but probably not enough to overcome the gap between a great team and a mediocre one. More to the point, its more likely the great team is already doing similar analysis, and just not chatting about it.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        It appears to me that American Football is basically a start-stop game, and could probably view it in a similar way to chess openings.

        Football is a more flowing game. There are a few set plays that get played out, they make up an extremely small part of the game due to the dynamic nature.

        Therefore I would suggest that Football it is far more difficult problem domain than NFL for analysis to an arbitrary level of confidence.

        • by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @07:34PM (#15559417) Journal
          Football is a more flowing game. There are a few set plays that get played out, they make up an extremely small part of the game due to the dynamic nature.

          ,br. Actually I would suspect that its the opposite. Because of the start-stop nature, American Football has *ALWAYS* been more strategic, knowing the opponent is going to run vs short pass vs long pass on the next down is an obvious advantage, and so the opposition takes pains to avoid patterns. In soccer/football, the player is the one making the strategic decisions, constantly while under immediate pressure; my guess is he makes those decisions instictively. Instictive decision mean patterns, even if they aren't immediately obvious. This is what computers do, they data mine looking for patterns. This isn't "Player A passes right 75% of the time", this is "Player A, in a 1 on 1 situation with no other players in a 20 foot radius will attempt fake X when approached from the left front 80% of the time". Or maybe which side is the goalie strongest at defending? These are people who are making a living and dedicating their lives to this game, 80 hours a week minimum would not be unusual. The only thing that would be more difficult would be analyizing the data, and not being a soccer fan I'm not even sure about that.

    • But I think many times it becomes a crutch that makes people lazy.


      So we should go back to using typewriters and white out?
      Should we throw out Excel and go back to handcranked calculators?
      Should airforce pilots pull out a map, compass, and manual bombsights instead of using software guided munitions?
      Should weathermen go back to looking at almanacs and if it will rain tomorrow by looking at the sky?

      Software isn't a crutch... It is a tool. Having the tools is one thing, but knowing how to use the tools i
    • I agree that software in the world cup *might* help strategy, But I think many times it becomes a crutch that makes people lazy.
      How so?
  • by WinEveryGame ( 978424 ) * on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:28PM (#15558683) Homepage

    Well technology didn't quite cut it for the Australians today. Brazil took the game 2-0.

    On the other hand, the Socceroos played very well. They had at least two open goal chances. It came down to old-fashioned skills. Australians were excellent in creating chances, but just couldn't finish off. Brazilians had two great goals in the second half. But their super-star Ronaldo put out another so-so performance. According to one commentator:

    "Ronaldo's performance was better than against Croatia - but not by much. He played the pass for Adriano to score but cuts a dejected figure as he trudges off to consoling pats from the dug-out."

    Technology is of course changing the games, but probably online games [] more than soccer!
    • Socceroos are having another crucial match on on Thursday (and I hope that my team, Croatia, will win).

      Beauty of this game is that a slight change of strategy can completely obsolete this kind fo preparation. Besides, all coaches and team experts watch videos and can very reliably identify weak (and strong) spots of a team without any technological help.
    • They had at least two open goal chances. It came down to old-fashioned skills.

      No matter how much technology they use the success of a game at this level will always come down to old-fashion skills. Even if the Australians had some kind of nanotechnology [] the game will always come down to the will to win. There isn't any technology yet that can keep someone from mentally choking.

    • by Howzer ( 580315 ) * <> on Sunday June 18, 2006 @03:05PM (#15558782) Homepage Journal
      Australia, ranked 88th in the world of football, played Brazil, ranked 1st in the world of football, almost to a standstill in the first half.

      They had two clear chances to equalize Brazil's first goal, but couldn't quite get there.

      Then, late in the game, Brazil helped themselves to a freakish goal off a goalpost rebound, which made the score 2:0.

      Australia losing to Brazil ONLY 2:0 is a testament to the Aussie's coach, Gus Hiddink, fearless play, and, very probably, the software that you're saying "didn't do it".

      Look, I know you don't really understand "soccer" but this is as if, off the back of a crushing Superbowl victory, the best team in the NFL played the wooden-spooners, and ONLY won by one touchdown...
      • Come on, don't be ridiculous. Brazil is far from being the team which won the World Cup in 2002. For the moment they are just average among all the participants. They didn't have any friendly matches before the tournament and their game is still struggling. But even this allows them to beat the Aussies while evidently dominating the second half. Honestly, Australia didn't create anything, it was Brazilians who were defending stupidly.
        By the way, FIFA rankings are absolute nonsense. What can you expect if
        • by freitasm ( 444970 ) * on Sunday June 18, 2006 @03:23PM (#15558832) Homepage
          By the way, FIFA rankings are absolute nonsense.

          You are correct... How can we believe the USA soccer is ranked #6, ahead of Germany, Spain (as of the date of this post, from,254 8,All-Feb-2006,00.html [])

          Rankings are not a good index at all. Australia just lost it.
          • by danielk1982 ( 868580 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @04:27PM (#15558980)
            I don't follow soccer outside of the major tournaments (EuroCup and World Cup), but if USA plays as it did against Italy often, then they certainly deserve the ranking. The USA-Italy game was a real nail-bitter and at any time could have gone either way, and Italy is a team full of superstars. I'm not quite certain that Spain or Germany would have an easier time with the Americans, or that they would come out ahead.

            Any kind of rankings are far from perfect. The Edmonton Oilers are close to winning the Stanely Cup even though they barely qualified for the playoffs.
            • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @04:32PM (#15558995)
              Well, based on that one match as that's what we're using, the US should be ranked around 12th if they were so evenly matched against Italy...
              • Or Italy should be ranked 6th.
              • by Anonymous Coward
                FIFA rankings only make sense every 4 years, as the world cup lays everyting out clearly. For the next four years it's all pseudo-maths as the each nations play their continental championship, and then their regional qualifiers for the World Cup. For example, Brazil (#1) only ever have a chance to play competitively against the Czech Republic (#2) every four years at best.

                The rest of the world (FIFA especially) spend a lot of time wondering about why the USA doesn't really get into 'soccer', and the theory
                • by servognome ( 738846 ) on Monday June 19, 2006 @04:45AM (#15560525)
                  The rest of the world (FIFA especially) spend a lot of time wondering about why the USA doesn't really get into 'soccer', and the theory is put forward that it's because you are not interested in sports you're not going to win.

                  A few theories:
                  a) Money - you can't make millions domestically playing soccer
                  b) Fame - A soccer star isn't going to get the chicks while pimpin' on the LA club scene. Most don't realize how well they would do with the ladies internationally. ;)
                  c) Toughness - at least the perception. I understand soccer "gamesmanship" where a guy gets fouled lightly and gets carted off on a stretcher. But most people in the US just see it as weakness.
                  d) TV - most US sports are TV friendly. Play is typically chest level or higher, making it easy to track the ball (this is why hockey sucks on TV, but is awesome in person). And the gameplay starts and stops allowing for commercial breaks. This makes the networks more interested in broadcasting and promoting such events
                  e) Ties - in the US it's all about winning and losing, ties are worse than losses.
                  f) Game flow - or rather lack of in US games. The start-stop nature of US sports means every play has a result. A 4 yard run is a "win" for the offense, while a 0 yard stop is a "win" for the defense. The flow of soccer means exciting results only happen from a build-up of plays.

                  It's not like people hate soccer in the US. Most athletic kids played in a soccer league at some point of their life, it just isn't seen as a "professional" sport. Baseball and hockey are dying, maybe it will give room for soccer to take more of the limelight. Though please let me see games from Europe because MLS is the equivalent of the XFL.
            • You cannot juge a team by having seen only one match or even only one tournament. Ukraine lost 0:4 to Spain but they are surely not that bad. Denmark won European Championship in the 90s though they stepped into the tournament only because Yugoslavia wasn't allowed to play in the competition. And now you won't Danish national team in Germany. There are numerous exemples like that and I think that only a series of competitions can show whether a team really deserves to be in the TOP10.
              Since I'm from Europe,
            • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @05:46PM (#15559199)
              The problems with the rankings are fairly well understood, and FIFA has already said that they will introduce a new ranking system after the World Cup ends. Basically, FIFA awards most points based on performance in recognized international and regional tournaments. Sounds logical, however North America plays its regional tournament every other year, whereas most regions play only every 4th year. Moreover, North America is essentially dominated by the US and Mexico, as most of the remaining nations are too small, too poor, or both, to draft decent teams. So, the US and Mexico rack up points like crazy, by beating teams like Costa Rica over and over again. Meanwhile, strong teams in South America and Europe get pushed down in the rankings because they have to face powerhouses like Brazil or the Czechs in their regional tournaments.

              Anyway, all of this is a digression, but the point is that this is a known problem with the current rankings, and one which is expected to be fixed shortly.

        • You beated me to it - this Brazil is far, far off from the last world champion; in fact, it has a lot of issues. Expect them to have serious trouble if they keep up this playing in the next round; teams then won't be as forgiving as Croatia an Australia.

          BTW, Australia played just fine; the defense did their homework and annulated the Brazilian attacks for the whole first half and part of the second one. They just lack goal, but a tie would've been a much fair result. I still expect to see the
        • brazil always do this tho, play average to begin with and then turn on the skill in the knockout stages
      • Picking nits. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @03:39PM (#15558864)

        First off, the Aussies aren't ranked 88th, they're 42nd []. Quite a bit of difference between the two.

        Secondly, there aren't any wooden spoons here. (That would be American Samoa [] at 205th.) Every team in the World Cup is good, or else they wouldn't be here. Yes, there not all at the level of Brazil, but every team here can play.

        [My prediction: Argentina.]

        • I'm with you on Argentina.
          Focused, technical and it shows.
          Brazil, Italy, Croatia, Japan, Aussies all played their games more or less fine, but nothing to write home about.
          Argentina looks nice and focused.
      • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @04:09PM (#15558933) Homepage

        First goal was scored by a player who can only hit the ball with his left foot, the defender didn't force him onto his right, didn't close down and Brazil scored. Everyone in the world knows Adriano is only left footed, you would have thought the technology would have stressed this a little more.

        And yesterday the US (by any reasonable ranking system about the same level as Australia) played Italy to a standstill and a draw with one less player on the park.

        Technology helps in coaching, but what really helped the Australians and the US was guts and effort from the players.

        As one commentator said today

        "Imagine the talent of Brazil with Australia's work ethic"
      • "Australia losing to Brazil ONLY 2:0 is a testament to the Aussie's coach, Gus Hiddink, fearless play, and, very probably, the software that you're saying "didn't do it"."

        Uh, the last time they played, in 2001, Australia actually beat Brazil. Goes to show software was better in the olden days.

      • by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @05:07PM (#15559084) Homepage Journal
        A goal in soccer is much harder to obtain than a touchdown in American football. A 2-0 game is more like a 35-14 game in American football. Also in the NFL the 32 teams are pretty close in talent level, this is because of the salary cap. A 32nd ranked team can always beat the 1st ranked team. It just doesn't happen very often.

        Now in World Cup soccer/football the talent level is very uneven. In reality out of the 32 teams in the World Cup only maybe 6 are serious contenders. Of course in the NFL only 12 of the 32 make the playoffs. Yet all 12 have a serious chance of winning, the Steelers who won Super Bowl XL, were ranked 6th out of 6 in the AFL playoffs.

        I understand that the World Cup is on a national talent level and that perhaps makes it an uneven field of play. Yet it has to be said that only a very few teams have a chance of winning in the World Cup. And the chance of a lower tier team winning the World Cup is almost impossible. Out of 17 World Cup championships only 7 teams have won with 5 of those teams having won twice or more.
        • Right... and the Euro Championships in 2002 had Italy, England, Portugal, etc... and was won by Greece, a highly unfancied team. The beauty of football is that any one team can beat any other team, on their day.
          • I think if you want a level playing field like the NFL you would have to look towards the UEFA Champions League. However if you want the highest level of talent, the World Cup is the best. The thing is the talent pool in soccer is dominated by a few countries.

            Really comparing the NFL to the World Cup is a bad idea because they are different types of leagues. I think that was my overall point.
        • A goal in soccer is much harder to obtain than a touchdown in American football.

          Interestingly enough, no. On average, in one hour of soccer (real time) you are likely to see just as many goals as you are likely to see touchdowns in one hour of American football (real time). That's including normal stoppages, but excluding the breaks between halves/quarters. The numbers are astonishingly close, or at least they were that last time I ran them, which admittedly was many years ago.

          The reason there is

      • Is this the first time such an indepth discussion about a sporting event has taken place on slashdot?
    • by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @03:20PM (#15558820)
      Oh, come on. Did you see the same match i did? In the first half, the australian defense worked perfectly and drowned the brazilian attacks. Drowned them. On the second half, after the first goal they had to go for the game, which opened a lot of spaces... which Brazil still didn't knew how to exploit. We're still waiting for the Brazil that's supposed to get to the finals in their sleep; despite getting two wins, i'm pretty sure their matches so far have people in their country a bit worried, to say the least. They could run into serious problems if they face a team with a bit more experience.

          Anyway, Australia did fine - and deserved a bit more than finishing two goals down. The first half atleast was very well thought from the tactical point of view, and if this software helped them achieve this, well, it worked just peachy.

          As for Australia, i agree - it boiled down to individual performances (and physical strength; the speed diference between both teams was staggering). But don't count them off already; they're still second place in the group and have a solid chance of getting into the next round. I've seen a lot of Australian matches (WC classification mainly), and i liked what i saw. A team that plays like a team, always in order, which only lacks a bit on the goal definition. Besides, Aussies are just cool :)
    • by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @04:15PM (#15558947)
      Thankfully there's still a sporting tournament which can't be bought by money/technology (see: Olympics, NFL, MLB etc).

      You can have all the computers and scientists in the world working out strategies etc, but in this game it can all be destroyed by a single moment of genius from someone who grew up in a shanty town without ever seeing a computer.
      • Yeah, what a bunch of crap. No matter how much hard work and ingenuity the developed nations of the world put into winning, an unearned genetic endowment is still enough to beat them. Thankfully, this imbalance will be righted soon, as the singularity is nigh.
        • by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @06:38PM (#15559323)
          The Brazilian's dominance of football is not genetic nor unearned. It's created through a culture of football. As soon as they can walk, they are playing the game, kicking balls made of cloth on street corners and dirt fields.

          They don't have the American/Australian soulless attitude that sport is about mechanically working out in the gym, or following strict, dull instructions from the coach. In Brazil, sport is about expression, about creativity, about style and panache.

          That is something that the dominant Olympic countries will never understand. No matter how much money they throw at it, no matter how many 'Institutes of Sport' they make, no matter how much they can 'bench', no matter how fast then can run a 40, they will never have the passion, the creativity, the joy for the game necessary to win the World Cup.

          And thank fuck for that.
          • God you're a wanker...
          • You were right in the first paragraph (using slightly misleading terms), and went wrong then after. The Brazilian's dominance of soccer is not genetic nor unearned. It's created through a culture of soccer. All three nations you mentioned of course have a strong culture of football, it's just that in Brazil, the major code is soccer; in America, it's gridiron, in Australia, it's split between Aussie rules and rugby based on region. Drive through the backstreets of Melbourne or down to the local parks and you'll see dozens of children playing football. Football obsession is not limited to Brazil and not limited to soccer.

            Not surprisingly, the very best Aussie rules footballers come from Australia, and the very best gridiron footballers come from America.

            Probably you're right that Australia and America will never win the World Cup. But that's because our very best athletes are playing the codes that they want to play, because of the culture they have behind them.
    • If you can call that a so-so performance... I've called it a disaster several times :)

      But, anyway, this post it to say that Brazil was using computers to input strategies and position better the players at 2002 (not exctly the same way). I don't know if they still do that, sice it is another coach, but it is not that new.

    • Well technology didn't quite cut it for the Australians today. Brazil took the game 2-0.

      This can not be the conclusion after just one game. Also you have no idea how much more the difference would have been without the software.
  • by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:28PM (#15558685) Homepage
    Placing 5000$ (AUS) on Brasil to win would be a good start.
  • by Gibsnag ( 885901 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:29PM (#15558687)
    The Aussies seemed to do quite well in the first half... They were certainly stopping Brazil do many of their normal technical flourishes. Whenever one of them got the ball they would be jumped by at least two Aussies.
  • by linvir ( 970218 ) * on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:29PM (#15558688)
    ...Strategy calculated.
    1. Concede one goal.
    2. Concede one goal

    "Sorry lads, a few more bugs to work out! Lads? Nooooooo..."

  • by Espectr0 ( 577637 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:32PM (#15558697) Journal
    I am amazed to see Australia playing this well. The previous Australia i saw was eliminated by Uruguay 4 years ago. This year they got even, and eliminated them.

    They came from behind in their first game, and played "mano a mano" against Brasil today, and i would say they even played better. They had bad luck with the score.

    I think they will win their next game against croacia and go to the next round.

    So maybe this software is actually helping them
    • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:55PM (#15558757) Homepage
      They are pathological about it. Worse than the East Germans of old.

      They are the only non-communist country to have a state subsidized Institute of sport which has no other goal but to "make our guys win". And they are doing a bloody good job at it across the board.

      They make winning a matter of science in all sports. They run full hydrodynamic analysis on their swimmer performance using an approach not dissimilar to the one used to analyse results from a wind tunnel. They use thermal imaging, P-NMR on muscles during load to optimise pre-even training, etc. They have something like 200+ PhDs a year in sports related biochemistry, medicine, physiology and a few other related fields all working in that sports institute (sorry forgot the name).

      Taken along with their other efforts software for pattern analysis on a football field does not strike me as odd. In fact, it would have been surprising if they did not do it.
      • by Mr_Tone ( 922338 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @03:06PM (#15558789)
        Oddly enough, it's called the Australian Institute of Sport [].
      • They are the only non-communist country to have a state subsidized Institute of sport which has no other goal but to "make our guys win".

        Not the only one.

        Make one guess why Norway with its 4.5 million inhabitants and gulf-stream warmed climate is among the best (if not the best) winter-sports nations in the world :)

      • by njh ( 24312 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @08:25PM (#15559515) Homepage
        I'm not sure whether you think the AIS is good or bad from your post. Yes, we have a goverment sponsored research institution into sport. But I don't see this as very different to say the US model with universities having a big emphasis on sports, or having corporate sponsorship of good athletes in certain games. The Australian model is clearly better bang for buck, and so if I'm going to pay for sports research I'd rather do it as efficiently as possible.

        The Americans have a state subsidized dept. of defense which has no other goal but to "make our guys win".

        I do think Australians are a little parochial about sport, and I do wish that more australians would play than watch on TV. Australians are on average, quite unhealthy. I also wish more money would be spent on other research, but perhaps not at the expense of sports research. (Less money on defence instead?) I think the drive for being good at sport is perhaps a little bit of arrogance, we like to think we're better than average, but in fact we're pretty much on target for an economy of our size.

        Disclosure: I trained at the AIS, and my nephew is currently training for the australian swim team.
    • They had bad luck with the score.

      Sorry but, from what I saw in the second part, they were quite bad even at catching the passed balls.
    • by drsquare ( 530038 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @04:24PM (#15558973)
      So maybe this software is actually helping them

      I think their performance has more to do with managing to acquire the services of Guus Hiddink (a man who was coaching championship-winning teams in the 80s, when none of this modern technology was around).

      Also their players have four more years of experience playing in Europe's top leagues which can't hurt.
  • 2:0 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0x2A ( 548071 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:50PM (#15558747)
    What a shame, the socceroos played better football but lost anyway...
  • Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rbarreira ( 836272 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @02:52PM (#15558751) Homepage
    Funny, this article was posted after the game was over, 2-0 for Brazil. So there's the result of your "test".
  • I'm sure there are quite a few football clubs (and even countries) who are employing software analysis for their games preperations. I once saw this video about Rafael Benitez (manager of Liverpool FC) employing this software and spoke highly of it. UEFA Champions League and the European Supercup in 2005 and the FA Cup in 2006 speaks for itself.
    • Yeah. Let's see:

      3-0 down in the first half against Milan in the Champions League final.
      3-1 down in the second half against West Ham in the FA Cup final.

      Looks like the computer really helped prepare for those two games.

      I hadn't heard that Benitez was a fan of any given software. I do know he's a thinker, a tactician, a man who prepares to minute detail. So it doesn't surprise me that he's open to using modern tools and techniques.

      However, make no mistake: Neither game was won with computer software. Both gam
  • Flawed Technology (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reason58 ( 775044 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @03:15PM (#15558811)
    The fundamental flaw with "intelligent" software like this is the fact that it only has a chance of working if no one else uses it. The instant a second team starts exploiting this it will throw off everything, as those teams will be playing in a way contradictory to their usual tactics, and thus all the statistics and probability it outputs are meaningless.
    • Not so. This software, and many more like it used by professional sports teams around the worls -- particularly in the US NFL football clubs -- analyzes patterns in video footage. It calculates STATISTICS based on how often certain formations are used, what attacks, defenses are constructed, and analyzes weakneses based on previous performances. It is not a real-time process. Even if it was a real-time process, it only allows you to see what the current pattern is -- it's up to the coach to decide how t
      • It calculates STATISTICS based on how often certain formations are used, what attacks, defenses are constructed, and analyzes weakneses based on previous performances.

        And finally, thanks to your comment, I have an opportunity to rant on my disbelief in statistics. Because, as seen today, Brazil won not because it was better on the field as the statistics and patterns might show. Brazil won due to their incredible luck. Not their technique, not their tactics. Australia had a more convincing game attitude th

  • by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Sunday June 18, 2006 @03:35PM (#15558855) Homepage Journal
    In time for next years Ashes, their cricket team is going to have a computer that advises their skipper not to take suicidal runs to substitute fielders.
  • software (Score:3, Insightful)

    by goarilla ( 908067 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @03:42PM (#15558874)

    So they are using software to search for patterns
    big deal i think that the biggest strenght of that team lies in
    the enormous barrel of talent and experience that their coach, the dutch Guus hiddinck has(NL)
    He's the one that made Korea win against my all-time favorite Italia in the previous worldcup
    He also coached a lot of big teams: Barcelona, Real madrid, ...

    anyway it's nice to see them using software but don't ever think
    that's the main reason they are performing so well for a relative rookie team

    Anyway that's just my opinion as a belgian footballfan :D
    • Re:software (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxter3185 ( 816089 )
      And you're right. This guy coaching the Netherlands took out Argentina in the 98 WC, in France.
      Anyway I wanted Australia to draw the match, they deserved it. And Brazil thinks they can win any match just by showing their opponents the "Verdeamarelha" (Green-Yellow T Shirt) as if it were some kind of winning card.
  • by sineltor ( 312152 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @04:13PM (#15558941) Journal
    ...but Australia (newcastle university) just beat Australia (university of new south wales) in the finals of the 4-legged league of the robotic world cup for the first ever all-australian final match.

    I don't know how many different countries competed [ 06 [] ] but its a lot.

    The challenge is to program sony AIBO dogs. Every year the finalists' code is publically released so the bar rises every year. (since everyone can use the winners' ideas in their own submissions).
  • another software promise that didn't work all that great.
  • Oh yeah, well the US team is gonna use technology also. We will use Predator drones to shoot the enemy team, and then turtore the survivors with electricity while blindfolded in a black hood. Our Soccer team won't ever be booed again on the world domin.....uh...stage again!

    -1 Offtopic, -1 Flamebait
    • Re:USA technology (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Pseudonym ( 62607 )

      While the OP is modded as funny, there's actually a grain of truth here.

      (Full disclosure: I work in this area. In Australia. For the AIS []. I'm currently working on two software/firmware projects involving rowing and boxing, in fact.)

      Let's suppose you're some researcher who has a new technology (picking an example at random from our group []) that they want developed into something useful. Let's further suppose that it could have a number of applications. For example, let's suppose it could have uses in h

  • by cellocgw ( 617879 ) <> on Sunday June 18, 2006 @04:29PM (#15558984) Journal
    A fellow happens to be sitting next to a priest at a boxing match. Before the first bell, he notices one of the boxers crossing himself. So he asks the priest, "Will that help him win the fight?" The priest says, "Not if he can't box."

    So, yeah, computer analysis has been around for ages in many sports. Take the mega-infield shift teams put on for Big Papi, for example. Still doesn't help if the team doesn't have sufficient skill to use the information.
  • Software vs. Brazil? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday June 18, 2006 @04:38PM (#15559010)
    It would seem to me that evaluating the effectiveness of this software vs Brazil would be a rather pointless exercise. Brazil is known for having a extraordinarily creative approach to the game, and marvelous individual talent, almost beyond what could be expected from human performance. The result of their approach is extreme unpredictability. When it works it is astonishing in its results, and it generates acutally beauty and grace, when it doesn't work it results in surprisingly uninspired play. It is almost chaotic.

    Nobody would normally expect the "Socceroos", a team of mediocre skills to be able to compete with Brazil. They are totally outmanned respect in every respect, talent, culture, skill and tradition. The evaluation of this softwware needs to be done at a different level, looking at its predictions and result. And more likely the predictions should be made examining a different data set than what a match against Brazil would provide.

    • I agree; it's hard to design a software that aid them in e.g the many individual challenges against the Brazil players. Soccer games also often turns in ways the opponents didn't expect, and that of course goes for Australia as well, and not just Brazil when Australia wish to use a particular strategy.

      There's no soccer team that belong to the top that don't have a ton of imagination, individual skill, and versatility in their team to be able to efficiently play many sorts of different tactics. If a computer
  • by pipingguy ( 566974 ) * on Sunday June 18, 2006 @06:07PM (#15559248)
    "The Philosophers' Football Match [] was a comedy sketch on Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus and later a part of Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

    The sketch depicted a football match between philosophers representing Greece and Germany, including Plato, Socrates and Aristotle on the Greek team, and Heidegger, Marx and Nietzsche on the German team. Instead of playing, the philosophers competed by thinking while walking on the pitch in circles. This left Franz Beckenbauer, the sole genuine footballer on the pitch (and a "surprise inclusion" in the German team, according to the commentary), more than a little confused. Confucius was the referee and Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine were the linesmen."

    I forget who finally "gets it" and does a goal rush. Very funny sketch, what with the announcer enthusiastically describing what is basically nothing happening.

    See also onal-philosophy.htm [] for a transcript.
  • great (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    really great, but did not work today against Brasil. 8-) BRASIL!!!

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.