There are, depending on how you look at it, around 200 countries in the world:
- 193 members of the UN
- 206 sovereign states
- 206 nations with National Olympic Committees
- 211 members of FIFA
And it’s these nations that are used to splice up the world into the neat packets (politically questionable of course, but still) that make international competition possible.
It can’t have escaped your notice however, because it hasn’t escaped mine, that nations are not all born equal. Some are massive, some are tiny. Some have many people, some have not very many at all. Some have the perfect weather for schlepping around outside, some are devastatingly wet and windy.
It’s ultimately not fair. But then, what is?
Well, how about the overall distribution of birthdays? 🎂
Sure, there’s some shift throughout the year with September/October sitting a well positioned 9 months after Christmas and New Year frivolities but the overall the numbers are convincingly consistent (England/Wales data, US Data) for 363/366 potential birthdays at least. Only Feb 29th (obviously a special case), Christmas Day and Boxing Day exhibit notable drops from the mean.
And so what? So this…
What if FIFA, or the IOC or the IAAF or anyone else decided to run teams not based on citizenship but based on the day you were born? A truly international coming together of sisters and brothers who share birthdays rather than passports. Would it work? Who cares. Instead, let’s see which teams might perform well in a football tournament organised around this concept and spend some time elbow deep in spreadsheets. Of course, I’ve chosen football because it’s easy to get data on all professional footballer’s birthdays so we’ll leave it there for now and, as ever, I’m tired/my child needs rearing… (although, bonus info, Steve Redgrave, Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny AND Mo Farah four of the UK’s top 6 all-time Olympic medal winners were all born on March 23rd which is frankly BIZARRE and slightly unnerving and leads me to seriously consider whether lizards are in fact running the planet).
* * * * *
Having crunched the data very unscientifically and while trying to also eat a croissant, I have identified birthdates that might offer the spine of a successful team from the pool of current players presented to you here in a vague kind of seeding. I could have tried to eke out a full XI of course, but I really wanted to enjoy the croissant.
Team February 5th 🎂
I find it hard to believe that it is only in researching this weird idea that I have discovered the fact that Neymar and CR7 are candle-cake twins. But there you are. And, along with a couple of other names at either ends of their careers, they could well be brought together to argue about dead-ball duties in actual Portuguese.
Oh, and Sven-Göran Eriksson would qualify to take the helm in the dugout.
Team February 14th 🎂
Romantics will love the idea of seeing Kevin Keegan back on the World stage at the head of a team surely nicknamed ‘The Valentines’, not to mention Eriksen and Cavani providing some very lovely goals.
Kevin Keegan would be the man needing special tracksuits made.
Team January 8th 🎂
Strong through the midfield, but – like every other team here – totally devoid of any presence in net.
Team December 20th 🎂
A mix of youth, experience and a love of a fine pizza might just drag this team through the rounds making up for all those times they’ve been given a ‘joint’ birthday and Christmas present that’s barely the sum of its parts.
Team May 4th 🎂
Team ‘Star Wars’ have past and future star appeal but no actual war lords (as far as we know).
Team February 26th 🎂
Those who like players with one name and North London might be seduced by the boys running out for team 2/26. A solid line-up to fight through the rounds (which would be even more protracted than the multi-year FIFA qualification route presumably with 155 extra teams to deal with).
Ole Gunnar Solskjær would be shouting tactics.
Data from Transfermarkt.com