Winning by Losing: Incentive Incompatibility in Multiple Qualifiers

20 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2013

See all articles by Dmitry Dagaev

Dmitry Dagaev

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy; Higher School of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: March 2013

Abstract

In sport tournaments, the rules are presumably structured in a way that any team cannot be better off (e.g., to advance to the next round of competition) by losing instead of winning a game. Starting with a real-world example, we demonstrate that the existing national rules of awarding places for the UEFA Champions Leagues and the UEFA Europa League, which are based on the results of the national championship, a round-robin tournament, and the national cup, a knock-out tournament, might produce a situation where a team will be strictly better off by losing a game. Competition rules of the European qualification tournament to the World Cup 2014 suffer from the same problem. We show formally that in qualifying systems consisting of several round-robin tournaments, monotonic aggregating rules always leave open such a possibility. Then we consider qualifying systems consisting of a round-robin tournament (championship) and a knock-out tournament (cup). We show that any redistribution rule that allows the cup's runner-up to advance in the case that the cup's winner advances based on its place in a championship, has the same drawback, and discuss possible fixes.

Keywords: football, organization, tournaments, UEFA Champions League

JEL Classification: D71

Suggested Citation

Dagaev, Dmitry and Sonin, Konstantin, Winning by Losing: Incentive Incompatibility in Multiple Qualifiers (March 2013). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP9373, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2231866

Dmitry Dagaev (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Konstantin Sonin

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Higher School of Economics ( email )

20 Myasnitskaya street
Moscow, 119017
Russia

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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