DP3266 Do the 'Three-Point Victory' and 'Golden Goal' Rules Make Soccer More Exciting? A Theoretical Analysis of a Simple Game

Author(s): Isabelle Brocas, Juan D Carrillo
Publication Date: March 2002
Keyword(s): game theory, soccer rules
JEL(s): C72
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=3266

This note argues that a rigorous application of simple game theory may provide unambiguous yet non-trivial theoretical insights about the behaviour of players in simple games. This contrasts with a commonly held view that many predictions in applied game theory are either obvious or inconclusive. To illustrate our point, we analyse the merits of two controversial changes in soccer rules, namely the ?three-point victory? and the ?golden goal?. Starting from standard premises, we present some original conclusions that are neither trivial nor the result of a twisted argument. We feel that soccer is a particularly good example for our exercise due to the simplicity of its main rules, but also to the proliferation of ad-hoc reasoning among soccer fans.