Public Policy and Professional Sports
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Public Policy and Professional Sports

International and Australian Experiences

John K. Wilson and Richard Pomfret

Public Policy and Professional Sports​is a comprehensive analysis of public policy aspects of the economics of professional sports, supported by in-depth international case studies. It covers regulation and competition in the sports industry and its labour markets, public spending on stadiums and mega-events, and governance issues including unethical behaviour (corruption, doping, etc). The innovative feature of the work is the combination of economic analysis and well-known international examples with detailed case studies​ of public policy as it relates to sport in Australia. Australia​is an excellent case study due to the high profile of sport in the national psyche and the range of popular professional sports.
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Chapter 7: Unethical behaviour in sport

John K. Wilson and Richard Pomfret


There is significant uncertainty surrounding outcomes and player behaviours in sporting contests. Interest in these outcomes is large, and there are significant rents involved. These rents accrue not just to players but also to third parties such as bookmakers and governing bodies of various sporting codes and events. The existence of the rents creates strong incentives to undertake behaviours that are unintended within the rules of any particular sport. Examples include match fixing, where bribes are paid to players and officials in order to achieve a particular result, corruption associated with the allocation of hosting rights for events such as the Olympic Games and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, and various activities which can broadly be described as ‘doping’ which involve the taking of precluded substances in order to enhance performance. This chapter examines some of the economic aspects associated with these ‘unethical behaviours’, issues surrounding their definition, economic consequences and antecedents and possible solutions. Given the coverage in other chapters (for example, corruption in bidding in Chapter 6 and in governing bodies in Chapter 8), the focus here is on bribery to influence player behaviour and doping.

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