The Cool Birthday Paradox At The World Cup

The Birthday Paradox states that in a group of just 23 people, the odds that two of those people will have the same birthday is 50%. If the size of the group goes up to 70 people, there is more than a 99% chance that two or more of them will share a birthday -and it is likely that more than one pair will have shared birthdays.

But perhaps the best data-set of all to test this on is the football World Cup. There are 32 teams, and each team has a squad of 23 players. If the birthday paradox is true, 50% of the squads should have shared birthdays.

Using the birthdays from Fifa’s official squad lists as of Tuesday 10 June, it turns out there are indeed 16 teams with at least one shared birthday – 50% of the total. Five of those teams, in fact, have two pairs of birthdays.

The list is: Spain, Colombia, Switzerland (x2), USA, Iran (x2), France (x2), Argentina (x2), South Korea (x2), Cameroon, Australia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Russia, Netherlands, Brazil, Honduras and Nigeria.

One of Argentina’s pairs, Fernando Gago and Augusto Fernandez, share the same actual birth date – 10 April 1986.