The 2010 FIFA World Cup has thrown up challenges for researchers at Oxford and Kentucky Universities. Using Google Maps they have settled scores on whether the term ‘football’ or ‘soccer’ is preferred across the world and kicked off a debate about which nation likes to talk about football the most.
They discovered that of all the teams in the World Cup, Algeria has the highest proportion of user-generated references to football. Algeria has 120 references to football out of a total of 5489 indexed items (or 2.2 per cent of all content) in Google Maps in Algeria. However, England is close behind with the second-highest proportion of references to football out of any country in the world cup. (165,000 football references in England out of almost 8 million indexed items - 2.1 per cent of the total).
They also found that there are twice as many references to ‘football’ (645,000) as there are references to ‘soccer’ (324,000) across the world. In languages other than English, there are more references to the sport in German (324,664) i.e. ‘fussball’ than any other language.
Oxford University researcher Dr Mark Graham of the Oxford Internet Institute and colleagues from the University of Kentucky (Dr. Matthew Zook and Taylor Shelton) used ‘football’ and ‘soccer’ as the search keywords on a world grid with co-ordinates ¼ degree apart to see which places on Google Maps threw up the most results.
Using specially written software programmes, designed by researchers from Oxford and Kentucky Universities, they conducted searches for ‘placemarks’ – the digital equivalent of ‘a pin on a map’ – which carried user-generated references to football or soccer. They also trawled Google Maps on approximately a quarter of a million geographical coordinates for user-generated content that mentioned ‘football’ or ‘soccer,’ for example football teams, football playing fields, bars and hotels showing football on TV.