Can France Win 2018 Global Cup?

France and the USA drew 1-1 in a pre-Football World Cup friendly match last June
Two thirds of the 2018 sporting year are now behind us, and the USA is firmly entrenched at the top of the Global Cup, the ranking of the world’s best sporting nations. Will history repeat itself, and will the USA win the Global Cup for the eleventh year running? Or can France, runner-up in 2016 and 2017 – the country’s best results ever – mount a credible challenge and write a new history?
The mighty Stars & Stripes currently have a margin of 708 points over France in second place. A healthy lead, but nowhere near the margin with which the USA won the Global Cup in 2017, just shy of 3,300 points. Even in percentage terms, France is much closer now (with a 7.3%-point share vs the USA’s 9.6%) than it has ever been: in 2017, the two countries finished respectively with 5.3% and 10.6%, and in 2016 only marginally closer, with 5.6% and 10.2%.
One reason, though by no means the only one, why France is hot on the USA’s heels this year is France’s triumph in the FIFA Football World Cup, worth a whopping 800 points (the USA didn’t even take part in the finals). Could this be France’s year?
We don’t have the proverbial crystal ball, but we took a close look at what the rest of the sporting year has in store. GSN will be tracking over 40 major tournaments between now and 31st December, so we singled out the most significant ones in terms of points on offer, and tried to assess the chances each of the two main contenders have of grabbing victory in these tournaments.
The table below is entirely unscientific, based on our evaluation of past results, and current form where available, and it focuses only on a handful of tournaments; for each of them, we attributed to both the USA and France a percentage of the points on offer for victory (or of the points won by the tournament’s winner in the last edition) based on our estimate of the chance each country has of winning the tournament.
The tournaments in questions include the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships, in which the USA finished fourth last year while France was 12th; the Basketball Women’s World Championships, worth 350 points (the USA were the last winners, but France finished third); the Karate World Championships, won last year by Japan with France second and the USA 19th; the Shooting World Championships, last held in 2014, with France fourth and the USA ninth; a host of Tennis tournaments, including the ATP Masters finals, with the USA (last year’s Global Cup winners in the sport) definitely favoured to scoop up more points than France; and finally, two of the biggest tournaments of the year, the Men’s and Women’s Volleyball World Championships, worth respectively 240 and 200 points.
We added up the points derived from our ‘unscientific’ percentages, and the totals are relatively close, the USA with 821 points just edging out France with 758. There are of course many other events to play for besides the ones listed here, but the feeling is that, barring a major surprise, it will be very hard for France to close the current 708-point gap with the USA.
On the other hand, it’s very likely that the 2018 Global Cup will be the first edition ever in which the USA will finish with an advantage of less than 1,000 points over the second-placed country - for the record, the closest winning margin for the USA was 1,066 points over Russia in 2009.
And once again, it is extremely likely that the second-placed country will be France – and chapeau to France, since it would be the third time running it would take the runner-up spot.
Event pts USA win % FRA win % USA pts FRA pts
Basketball Women's W. C. 350 90 10 315 35
Road Cycling W.C.  112 5 25 6 28
Shooting W. C. 284 10 40 28 114
Volleyball Men's W.C. 240 40 60 96 144
Volleyball Women's W.C. 200 80 1 160 2
Karate W.C. 489 3 80 15 391
Artistic Gymnastics W.C.  128 60 15 77 19
Tennis 250 50 10 125 25
Total 821 758