Three-Point-For-Win in Soccer: Are There Incentives for Match Fixing?

27 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2010

See all articles by Oleksandr Shepotylo

Oleksandr Shepotylo

Aston University - Aston Business School

Date Written: November 8, 2005


In the middle of the 1990s, the European soccer body UEFA recommended to the National Soccer Federations that they should reward three points for a win instead of two points as under the old regulations. Soon, this new system was universally adopted by all countries. The purpose of this change in the rules was to encourage a more attractive attacking style of play. While there is some evidence that this change had its intended effect, the effect has not been as dramatic as expected. The potential danger of the new rule is that it penalizes "quality" tied games and encourages teams to collude in order to maximize the expected number of points. This problem is especially relevant if teams can strategically interact during long tournaments and can lead to corruption and point trading between teams. There is also evidence that the change in rules had a heterogeneous effect across top clubs and lesser clubs. While top clubs prefer an attacking style, lesser clubs place more emphasis on defense even after this change in the rules.

Keywords: game theory, sports economics, corruption, institutional economics

JEL Classification: C52, C71, L83, P3

Suggested Citation

Shepotylo, Oleksandr, Three-Point-For-Win in Soccer: Are There Incentives for Match Fixing? (November 8, 2005). Available at SSRN: or

Oleksandr Shepotylo (Contact Author)

Aston University - Aston Business School ( email )

Aston Triangle
Birmingham, B47ET
United Kingdom