This book draws together academic research from around the world, exploring a number of wellknown “facts” about football and submitting them to scientific and mathematical tests. Some are found to be myths, such as “teams run a greater risk of conceding just after scoring” and “taking the lead just before half-time makes a win much more likely”. While others are found to be true, e.g. “goalkeepers dive too often for penalties” and “teams who celebrate goals collectively achieve better results”.
More than 40 scientists contribute to 20 chapters covering areas both on and off the pitch such as strategic choice, team behaviour, referee behaviour, demand, expert predictions, labour market and stock market. With so many contributors involved I suppose it’s more or less inevitable that the standard of the findings varies quite a lot. In previous posts I’ve touched upon post-scoring behaviour and the chances of scoring a penalty. Other interesting chapters deal with second leg home advantage and how accurately markets could predict the outcome of the Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup.
Some of the other chapters I find rather less interesting. In one case research even seem to take a step backwards when a study of stock market reactions to match results fail to use betting odds to control for expectations, unlike in previous research by Dobson and Goddard. This seems rather important as only deviations from expectations should, in theory, affect the stock market.
Nevertheless, this book is well worth a read, but I got a bit tired of it towards the end. It’s probably best enjoyed in small doses.
Myths and Facts about Football: The Economics and Psychology of the World’s Greatest Sport, Editors: Andersson, Ayton, Schmidt. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.