The Great Debate UK
What do an eight-legged creature in an aquarium in Germany and 74 economists have in common? The consensus view that Spain would claim the World Cup -- until the economists, as they so often do, changed their minds.
If World Cup 2010 goes down as one of the most unpredictable and exciting competitions in recent history, bringing underdogs Holland and Spain to the final showdown, what was hopelessly routine was watching so-called expert opinion converge around the safest bet. At least among financial professionals, who have done so well of late predicting the future.
When Reuters first surveyed economists and forecasters in May on which team would be kissing the golden grail on July 11, 2010 in South Africa, it made for interesting reading. Spain would take it -- by a narrow margin, it has to be said -- followed by Brazil, Argentina and England. Improbable probability analysis, perhaps, but not boring.
Then as various teams got knocked out of the competition -- former champions Italy, France, and England -- in a miserable and well-deserved defeat to Germany, Reuters re-polled these same economists and a few more for good measure. And that's when they fell flat. Those brave forecasters slipped back to the easy choice, and as a group they picked Brazil. We all know what happened to them.
– Tessa Jowell is Britain’s Minister for the Olympics and London and has held a variety of senior government posts. She has direct responsibility for delivery of the government’s Olympic programme. Jowell has been a member of parliament for the Labour Party since 1992. The views expressed are her own. –
In 1896 a Greek woman called Stamata Revithi decided to run the inaugural modern day Olympic Marathon in Greece. Arriving in the Village of Marathon she was told by officials that she was not allowed to compete in the race the next day as the entry deadline had expired.