Outcome Uncertainty in Sporting Events
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Outcome Uncertainty in Sporting Events

Winning, Losing and Competitive Balance

Edited by Plácido Rodríguez, Stefan Kesenne and Brad R. Humphreys

This book examines competitive balance and outcome uncertainty from multiple perspectives. Chapters address the topic in different sports in a range of countries, to help to understand its significance. It provides readers with important new insights into previously unexplored dimensions as well as a rich context for better understanding why fans, teams, and leagues value competitive balance. The book challenges readers to think about the topic in a broad and rigorous way, and in some cases to question widely held beliefs about how outcome uncertainty motivates competitive balance, and how sports fans actually view competitive balance.
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Chapter 7: The competitiveness of football at the national-team level

Thadeu Gasparetto and Angel Barajas


Competitive balance is one of the central topics in sports economics. Seminal papers indicate that higher levels of competitiveness would drive interest of fans, boosting broadcast and tickets demand, and consequently increasing revenues for clubs and leagues. A broad literature is found inspecting competitive balance in professional football leagues, but no previous works have examined this matter at national-team level. This chapter fills this gap, observing variations of competitiveness over the history. The methods comprise two steps: a descriptive analysis of goals scored in friendly and official tournaments matches from 1900 to 2018; and an ordinary least squares (OLS) model inspecting the determinants of competitiveness in the last six Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cups. The results show evidences that the football at national-team level is becoming more competitive over time, reflected by smaller differences of goals scored and more uncertainty in matches of recent FIFA World Cups.

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