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19 June 2014

Compared to hitting the jackpot?

What are the odds of winning the World Cup

What are the Odds? #4

What are the odds of winning the World Cup

With the World Cup in full swing this month's What are the Odds? asks what are the odds of winning the World Cup vs. the odds of winning a lottery bet with Lottoland.  

Millions of people across the world dream of being a professional footballer.  Meanwhile, professional footballers dream about winning the World Cup, the biggest accolade in soccer.  That means that there is a lot of competition, literally a world full of football hopefuls to contend with.  FIFA’s Big Count found that there were about 265,000,000 people playing football professionally or semi-professionally (and 5 million referees and officials) around the world today.  Therefore even if you’ve made it to the level of a professional footballer your chances of playing on a World Cup winning side very slim indeed at, with 23 players on the winning squad every 4 years your odds are about 1:11.5 million.  In contrast your chance of winning an Irish Lotto jackpot at Lottoland are 1:8.15 million.  Of course, depending what country you come from your chances of winning the World Cup would change dramatically – your odds will be significantly better if you’re Brazilian or Italian and significantly less if you came from the Turks and Caicos Islands or Bhutan!

World Cup Fun Facts 

Unfortunately with last night's loss to Uruguay England is going to need some serious lottery luck to get through the group stage now.  At Lottoland throughout the World Cup you can win money off the price of your lottery betslips by correctly predicting the winners of the games.  For every goal which your team wins by you will get 10% of the price of your betslip to a maximum of 100% off!

Even if you don’t fancy a flutter on the football finals here's 10 fun World Cup facts to impress your friends with at the match this evening:

Home field advantage: of the 19 World Cup Finals which have been played the Home Team has won 6 times.  No host team had ever lost in the first round until South Africa in 2010.

Brazilian brilliance: Brazil is the only team which has never missed a finals and have won 5 times, more than any other team.  Italy is the runner-up with 4 World Cup wins.

Continental clash: the only continents which have ever won a World Cup are Europe (10 times) and South America (9 times).

First timers: the first World Cup was held in 1930 in Uruguay which was also celebrating the centenary of its first constitution and were the 1928 Summer Olympic Champions.  There were 13 teams with 7 South American teams while Europe was only represented by France, Yugoslavia, Romania and Belgium because of the cost of the sea voyage over the Atlantic and the time which the players would be absent from their home squads.  The hometown Uruguyans would win the first World Cup.

Bad boys: the bad boys of the 2010 World Cup were the Dutch who racked up 24 yellow cards in seven games, topped off by a spectacular red in the finals against Spain when Nigel de Jong launched a final karate kick at Xabi Alonso.  The most penalized individual player of all time is Zinedane Zidane who had 4 yellow and 2 red cards in his illustrious World Cup career, with by far the most famous being his 2006 head butt into the chest of Italian Marco Materazzi.  The ever polite Japanese have been given the lowest odds of being the most penalized team in 2014 with bookies setting the chances at a mere 80/1.

A massive piss up: the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris was extinguished for the first time during the 1998 World Cup when drunken Mexican fans urinated on it after France defeated Brazil to win the Championship.

Animal instincts: over the years many “animal oracles” have become famous for predicting the world cup winner with by far the most famous being Paul the Octopus who in 2010 correctly predicted 11 out of 13 matches including Spain's victory over the Netherlands in the final.  Other psychic animals have not been so successful however with Leon the porcupine, Petty the pygmy hippo and Anton the tamarin from the Chemnitz zoo managing to get all of the results wrong between them in a PR debacle.  This year an Arabian camel named Shaheen and a Brazilian giant tortoise named Big Head have been receiving publicity for their match picking ability although they will have to be very lucky to compete with Paul (who unfortunately passed away on 26 October 2010 at the ripe old age of 2).   

Speedy starter and finisher: the fastest goal in World Cup history was scored by Turkish Hakan Sukur in the 2002 World Cup against South Korea, only 11 seconds after the starting whistle was blown.

Goals galore: Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) has the record for the most all-time goals in the World Cup at 15.  However the most prolific goal scorer of all time is French Just Fontaine who scored 13 goals in just 6 matches at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, including a hat trick against Paraguay and 4 goals against the West Germans.  There have been 2208 goals scored in all of the World Cups between 1930 and 2010.

No shoes, no shirts, no service: FIFA requirements that all players wear shoes during the matches forced India to withdraw from the tournament in 1950.  In 1986 “shirt swapping” was banned after concerns by some nations about bear chested football players appearing on live TV.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that you have better odds of winning a bet on the EuroMillions Lottery than becoming a professional football player when you consider the number of players you'd have to compete with.  Don’t let that get you down though, over the next few weeks you can get money back off your betslip price, up to 100%, for being a World Cup wizard.  For more information check our World Cup Promotions page. Have a great World Cup and Come On England!


One of the parts of my job which I enjoy the most is getting the chance to explore the nuances of different international lottery markets. In my articles I try to look not only how lottos and lotto players around the world differ from one another but also uncover the underlying reasons for the contrast.

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