Vsevolod Grabar, Konstantin Sonin, 20 October 2018

UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, which aim to “introduce more discipline and rationality in club football finances”, have attracted significant criticism, with claims that their effect on competitive balance is uncertain and that they will deprive new clubs of a chance to take off. This column provides a theoretical argument to show that regulations such as salary caps or Financial Fair Play improve investors' incentives to bring money to clubs other than those in the top financial tier, helping to level the playing field.

Doug VanDerwerken, Jacek Rothert, Brice Nguelifack, 09 February 2017

Most football leagues suspend players who have accumulated a certain number of yellow cards. This column describes the effect of this rule on the number of fouls committed by players in the English Premier League. Players who are approaching the suspension limit commit 33% fewer fouls than at the start of the season, and even in the first game of the season, the deterrent effect of the suspension rule reduces the number of fouls by 15%.

Roman Sittl, Arne Jonas Warnke, 18 September 2016

In sports economics, competitive balance refers to how well opponents are matched in terms of their ability to win. A lack of competitive balance implies that match outcomes will be more predictable and less interesting for fans. This column uses two decades of Bundesliga data to investigate whether competitive balance is decreasing in German football. Good players are increasingly playing for better teams, denoting a reduction in competitive balance. Although this reduction doesn’t seem to have affected fans’ interest, the results emphasise how revenue and regulations can affect competitive dynamics.

Luca Fumarco, Giambattista Rossi, 23 April 2016

A vast cross-discipline literature provides evidence that — in both education and sports — the youngest children in their age group are usually at a disadvantage because of within-group-age maturity differences, known as the ‘relative age effect’. This column asks whether this effect could last into adulthood. Looking at Italian professional footballers’ wages, the evidence suggests that the relative age effect is inescapable.

Nauro Campos, 13 June 2014

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is upon us. This column argues that there will be plenty of partying, but also plenty of protests fuelled by the gross mismanagement and limited economic benefits from hosting the Cup. Stadia may be ready, but much planned infrastructure has already been abandoned. Indeed, rent-seeking may be one reason nations bid for the Cup. Since the returns to transportation infrastructure are higher in poor countries, the international community should work to stamp out corruption so that poor countries can continue to host mega-events like the World Cup.

Battista Severgnini, 26 September 2008

Drawing on records from ‘Calciopoli’, a judicial inquiry into corruption in the Italian soccer league, Tito Boeri and Battista Severgnini have investigated what drives match rigging, including referees’ career concerns, competitive balance and media concentration. In an interview with Romesh Vaitilingam, recorded at the annual congress of the European Economic Association in Milan in August 2008, Severgnini discusses their findings.

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