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Football is becoming more predictable: Network analysis of 88 thousand matches in 11 major leagues

Citation

Yasseri, Taha (2021), Football is becoming more predictable: Network analysis of 88 thousand matches in 11 major leagues, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8931zcrrs

Abstract

In recent years excessive monetization of football and professionalism among the players has been argued to have affected the quality of the match in different ways. On the one hand, playing football has become a high-income profession and the players are highly motivated; on the other hand, stronger teams have higher incomes and therefore afford better players leading to an even stronger appearance in tournaments that can make the game more imbalanced and hence predictable. To quantify and document this observation, in this work we take a minimalist network science approach to measure the predictability of football over 26 years in major European leagues. We show that over time, the games in major leagues have indeed become more predictable. We provide further support for this observation by showing that inequality between teams has increased and the home-field advantage has been vanishing ubiquitously. We do not include any direct analysis on the effects of monetization on football’s predictability or therefore, lack of excitement, however, we propose several hypotheses which could be tested in future analyses.