nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2019‒10‒21
four papers chosen by
Humberto Barreto
DePauw University

  1. Rot-Jaune-Verde. Language and Favoritism: Evidence from Swiss Soccer By Faltings, Richard; Krumer, Alex; Lechner, Michael
  2. Biasing Unbiased Dynamic Contests By Stefano Barbieri; Marco Serena
  3. Sonic Thunder vs Brian the Snail : Fast-sounding racehorse names and prediction accuracy in betting exchange markets By Oliver Merz; Raphael Flepp; Egon Franck
  4. Coaches on Fire or Firing the Coach? Evidence of the Impact of Coach Changes on Team Performance from Italian Serie A By Argentieri, Alessandro; Canova, Luciano; Manera, Matteo

  1. By: Faltings, Richard; Krumer, Alex; Lechner, Michael
    Abstract: Switzerland is a multi-lingual developed country that provides an attractive stage to test ingroup favoritism that is driven by linguistic differences. To that end, we utilize data from soccer games in the top two Swiss divisions between the seasons 2005/06 and 2017/18. In these games, the referee was from the same linguistic area with one team, whereas the other team was from a different linguistic area. Using very rich data on teams’ and games’ characteristics, our causal forest-based estimator reveals that referees assign significantly more penalties in the form of yellow and red cards to teams from a different linguistic area. This form of ingroup favoritism is large enough so that it is likely to affect the outcome of the game. As evidence, we find that the difference in points in favor of the home team increases significantly when a referee is from the same linguistic area.
    Keywords: Favoritism, discrimination, soccer, language
    JEL: D00 J71 L00 Z13 Z20
    Date: 2019–10
  2. By: Stefano Barbieri; Marco Serena
    Abstract: We consider a best-of-three Tullock contest between two ex-ante identical players. An effortmaximizing designer commits to a vector of player-specific biases (advantages or disadvantages). In our benchmark model the designer chooses victory-dependent biases (i.e., the biases depend on the record of matches won by players); the effort-mazimizing biases eliminate the discouragement effect, leaving players equally likely to win each match and the overall contest. We contrast our benchmark model with one where the designer chooses victory-independent biases; the effort-maximizing biases leave players unequally likely to win each match and the overall contest. This result holds in Tullock contests and all-pay auctions, as well as under maximization of total effort and winner's effort. The appeal of our result comes from the players being ex-ante identical; thus, it challenges the conventional wisdom of optimality of unbiased contests. Our result has also an applied interest, as it shows that alternating biases, as when teams alternate home and away games, may increase total effort as opposed to an unbiased contest.
    Date: 2018–05
  3. By: Oliver Merz (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich); Raphael Flepp (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich); Egon Franck (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)
    Abstract: This paper examines the influence of objectively irrelevant information on prediction accuracy in horse-racing betting exchange markets. In horse racing, the name of a horse does not depend on the horse’s performance and is thus uninformative. We investigate the impact of fast-sounding horse names on prediction market price accuracy and betting returns. Using over 3 million horse bets, we find evidence that the winning probabilities of bets on horses with fast-sounding names are overstated, which impairs the prediction accuracy of such bets. This finding implies that the prices in betting exchange markets are not efficient, as prices become distorted by incorporating the misleading information from a horse’s fast-sounding name. This bias translates into significantly lower betting returns for horses classified as fast-sounding compared to the returns of all other horses.
    Keywords: Market efficiency, Sports forecasting, Prediction markets, Betting industry, Horse Racing
    JEL: D40 C53 L83
    Date: 2019–10
  4. By: Argentieri, Alessandro; Canova, Luciano; Manera, Matteo
    Abstract: In this paper, football data from the 2007/2008 to 2016/2017 seasons of the Italian Serie A were used to identify the effects of replacing a coach mid-season due to poor team performance. We used an instrumental variable approach to correlate coach turnover within a season with player productivity and found a very low positive impact of the coach change in the short term but a significant negative impact in the long term. Our findings are also relevant to the literature on management replacement in small-size firms.
    Keywords: Research Methods/ Statistical Methods
    Date: 2019–10–17

This nep-spo issue is ©2019 by Humberto Barreto. 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.