LA NACION (Argentina): Coverage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Entry type: Portfolio

Country/area: Argentina

Publishing organisation: LA NACION

Organisation size: Big

Cover letter:

The portfolio presented is a collection of visual projects produced by the LA NACION Data and Digital Narratives teams, which collaborated throughout the year with the LA NACION sports section to cover the World Cup with different approaches and with special emphasis on the data generated before, during, and after the World Cup.

The Digital Narratives team at LA NACION is dedicated to interactive design, producing special projects from a visual perspective and assisting other sectors of the newspaper with graphic elements for their journalistic articles. It is a team with extensive experience in the production of content such as data visualizations, interactive features, infographics, web applications (webapps) and more. The team is composed of designers, journalists and programmers.

LA NACION Data is an interdisciplinary team of engineers, programmers, journalists and data analysts dedicated to innovative uses of data and public documents for research and journalistic coverage. It seeks to advance the development of new technologies and reuse existing ones to produce outstanding content that covers diverse topics.

Both teams collaborate to analyze a large volume of data and develop interactive pieces with great visual contributions. Their work has received numerous awards from various institutions including: WAN-INFRA, GDA, ADEPA, the Society for News Design (SND), the Malofiej Awards, the Online Journalism Awards and the Sigma Awards for their data journalism portfolio.

Beyond the diversity of the profiles that make up both teams, all are involved in some way in the production of content, and all are constantly driven by their interest in telling stories in an innovative, data-driven way.

Description of portfolio:

Soccer / Football is the most popular sport in Argentina and is part of the country’s cultural identity. The World Cup, the most important international event in this sport, takes up a large part of the media agenda every four years and is the most important social event for most Argentines. Given the cultural and sporting importance of the tournament, it was LA NACION’s journalistic bet of the year.

A large volume of data is generated before, during and after the World Cup. Our biggest challenge was offering data-based content using distinct approaches in a landscape in which all media outlets have practically the same information.

LA NACION carried out a series of interactive projects that emphasized the team’s expertise in the fields of data analysis, unique database generation, predictive model development and innovative data visualization.

Coverage began in early 2022 with the World Cup group draw. LA NACION developed a simulator that allowed users to predict the results of the draw and the level of competitiveness of each group.

Another highlight was the development of mathematical models that predicted the outcomes of all World Cup matches as well as the winner of the World Cup. These calculations were visualized in an application called “El Bot del Mundial,” which showed the probability of each team winning or losing each match. The results of the simulations were also shown, along with the predicted stage each team would reach in the World Cup. Our algorithm simulated each match one million times to evaluate the probability of each team’s victory.

Since social networks played an important role during the development of the tournament, we developed a Twitter bot with the predictions of the mathematical model. Likewise, these calculations were included in several LA NACION features such as the fixture, calendar and interactive key (brackets), among others.

We had some opportunities to take more playful approaches to storytelling. A few months before the start of the World Cup, a collectible album of trading cards was launched in Argentina. With the unexpected success of the album, we created an interactive that allowed users to estimate how much it would cost to fill the album based on how lucky they were. These different “luck” scenarios were calculated on the basis of a mathematical model developed for the occasion.

In some cases, we utilized a particularly innovative visual format. An example of this is our analysis of the Argentine team’s performance by means of three-dimensional graphics that reconstructed the shots on goal taken by the national team in the group stage.

In other cases, we employed innovative metrics that showed aspects of the games’ development that were less intuitive. For example, by comparing the xG metric (expected goals scored) with actual goals scored in each match, we were able to evaluate teams’ performance.

Another challenge we faced was how to cover the World Cup Final. In this case, we asked readers in realtime on our website what emotion they were feeling as the match unfolded. The data collected was used in a visual feature that documented the emotion of Argentines at every moment of the match.

This portfolio of projects has succeeded in converting readers into subscribers, and some of the projects have reached record numbers of pageviews. The following link shows a behind-the-scenes look at some of these developments.

Project links: