nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2008‒09‒29
four papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Technical University of Lisbon

  1. The influence of social pressure and nationality on individual decisions: evidence from the behaviour of referees By Peter Dawson; Stephen Dobson
  2. Strategic behaviour and risk taking in football By Stephen Dobson; John Goddard
  3. Effort levels in contests: an empirical application of the Tullock model By Stephen Dobson; John Goddard; Frank Stahler
  4. Leadership by Confidence in Teams By Kobayashi, Hajime; Suehiro, Hideo

  1. By: Peter Dawson; Stephen Dobson
    Abstract: This study considers the influences on agents’ decisions in an international context. Using data from six seasons of European cup matches it is found that football referees favour home teams when awarding yellow and red cards. Previous research on referee decisions in national leagues has identified social pressure as a key reason for favouritism. While social pressure is also found to be an important influence in this study, the international context reveals that referee decisions are also influenced by the nationality of the referee and team, and the reputation of the league.
    Date: 2008–09
  2. By: Stephen Dobson; John Goddard
    Abstract: This article develops a dynamic game-theoretic model of optimizing strategic behaviour by football teams. Teams choose continuously between defensive and attacking formations and between a non-violent and a violent playing style. Starting from the end of the match and working backwards, the teams’ optimal strategies conditional on the current state of the match are determined by solving a series of two-person non-cooperative subgames. Numerical simulations are used to explore the sensitivity of strategic behaviour to variations in the structural parameters. The model is tested empirically, using English football league data. Teams that are trailing are willing to bear an increased risk of a player dismissal in order to increase the probability of scoring. Teams that are leading or level in scores play cautiously. The scoring rates of teams that are trailing are higher than those of teams that are ahead or level. Stochastic simulations are used to obtain probabilities for match results, conditional upon the state of the match at any stage. The article’s main theoretical and empirical results constitute novel, non-experimental evidence that the strategic behaviour of football teams can be rationalized in accordance with game-theoretic principles of optimizing strategic behaviour by agents when payoffs are uncertain and interdependent.
    Date: 2008–06
  3. By: Stephen Dobson; John Goddard; Frank Stahler
    Abstract: Empirical applications of the Tullock contest model are rare, due in part to the non-observability of effort. This paper presents an application of the standard Tullock model in a setting where effort can be observed and explained. A simple contest model is used to predict levels of effort in English soccer, with data on fouls and yellow and red cards used to reflect the effort of teams. Effort levels are found to be higher in matches between evenly balanced teams, and in matches with implications for end-of-season outcomes. The results suggest that the teams’ effort levels are strategic complements.
    Keywords: Tullock contest, team sport, strategic complements.
    JEL: L83
    Date: 2008–07
  4. By: Kobayashi, Hajime; Suehiro, Hideo
    Abstract: We study endogenous signaling in teams by analyzing a team production problem with endogenous timing. Each agent of the team is privately endowed with some level of confidence about team productivity. Each of them must then commit a level of effort in one of two periods. At the end of each period, each agent observes his partner's move in this period. Both agents are rewarded by a team output determined by team productivity and total invested effort. Each agent must personally incur the cost of effort that he invested. We show a sufficient condition under which sender and receiver emerge endogenously in a stable equilibrium. This result implies that leadership in teams emerges through the leader's signaling incentives only based on his confidence.
    Keywords: Endogenous Signaling; Team Production; Leadership
    JEL: D82 C72
    Date: 2008–07–07

This nep-spo issue is ©2008 by Joao Carlos Correia Leitao. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.