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Singapore Math

Monday, June 21, 2010

Football Freaking, Anyone?

Gary Rimmer defines “number freaking” as a way of looking at the world through the lens of numbers. Unlike guesstimation (a marriage of the words “guess” and “estimation”), which tends to be more serious and school-based, number freaking is like doodling with numbers, in your head, just for fun – just like playing jazz math!

In this season of football fever, it’s important to strike a balance between your eyes and your brain. Resorting to some football freaking, by exercising your mind’s eyes, could only do good to your brain cells, instead of just sitting there for hours and days as professional couch potatoes, consuming all those sinful foods and drinks, which you 'promise' not to touch except every four years.

One goal of practicing football freaking is that it will reveal things you didn’t know you didn’t know. So, are you ready for some guesstimation, speculation, and extrapolation? All you need is a calculator, unless you’re a certified mental calculator, of course.

Let’s begin with a taste of these surreal computations behind the beautiful game.

The richest player in England is reputed to be David Beckham, said to be worth some 20 million pounds (including endorsements) a year. How many Beckhams are worth a Tiger Wood?

What are the odds that North Korea would make it to the last 16 in the World Cup 2010?

If David Beckham decided to play for a Singapore team, how much earnings would be generated in shirt sales?

How many man-years of average South African or Algerian productivity would it take to pay England’s goal-scorer-in-chief, Wayne Rooney, his salary during a month at the World Cup?

In North Korea, how many average workers’ monthly salaries will it take to pay the airfares of the local team to South Africa?

How many extra liters of beer will the South Africans need to brew to satisfy the fans for a month?

What percent of games will end 0:0 after 90 minutes at the 2010 World Cup?

On average, what would be the distance (in kilometers) the players in each team covered collectively in a World Cup game?

Since it began in 1930, how many kilometers have been run at the World Cup so far?

Historically, how many goals are scored on average in a World Cup match?

How many men might die of a heart attack if Brazil, Germany or Spain didn’t qualify for the last eight?

How many football fans have ever attended a World Cup match?

How many times could the ball travel up and down a 110-yard pitch in 90 minutes?

What could be the potential “black-market” value of all the spectator tickets in the World Cup 2010?

How much is the illegal football betting in Singapore worth during this World Cup 2010?

How many divorces might result from wives refusing to let their husbands watch football matches during the World Cup 2010?

How many tens of thousands of football fans in Singapore couldn’t enjoy (or afford to subscribe to) the World Cup 2010 matches, because they refuse to pay the over-priced ninety-odd dollars charged by service providers to watch the other matches, besides the free-telecast semi-finals and the final?

If you've fallen in love with football freaking, and should you decide to train yourself to become a professional football freaker for FIFA (indeed, they'd create this new post for World Cup 2014), visit the Website www.footballfreaking.co.uk for more challenging sums on the beautiful game.


Rimmer, G. (2006). Football freaking: Surreal sums behind the beautiful game. Icon Books.

© Yan Kow Cheong, June 20, 2010

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