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The law of unintended consequences in soccer: impact of three-point-a-win rule on strategies and outcomes

By Oleksandr Shepotylo


This paper analyzes whether the three-point rule in soccer brought more action to the game for a large sample of European championships in 1990-1997, revealing team-specic heterogeneity of responses caused by differences in team tactics in the period prior to the rule change. Teams that relied more heavily on tie-intensive tactics dramatically changed their behavior towards more attacking style in away games, considerably reducing probability of a tie. Interestingly, even though the three-point rule signicantly reduced proportion of ties, it did not bring more goals into the game because the increased rewards of scoring when the current score is tied were oset by increased incentives of defending the current score when one team led.heterogeneous response, soccer, sports, three-point system

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