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To Make Soccer More Fair, Make It More Like Tennis

To Make Soccer More Fair, Make It More Like Tennis

July 31, 2017

Social Sciences & Humanities

UPI — Penalty shootouts in a soccer match are decisive in a tie game, but are they fair?

New BGU research shows that the ABAB sequence — where teams A and B take turns shooting — can give a measurable advantage to the team who shoots first. The ABBA sequence used in tennis tiebreakers, however, gives no such unfair advantage.

Dr. Danny Cohen-Zada

For the study, the researchers analyzed the results of 1,701 tiebreakers from 73 men’s tennis tournaments and 920 tiebreakers from 135 women’s tournaments.

Their findings, published recently in the Journal of the IZA Institute of Labor Economics, showed that both servers had an equal chance of winning when following the ABBA format.

“Our research shows that serving first in a tennis tiebreak does not provide an advantage to any of the players to win,” says Dr. Danny Cohen-Zada of the BGU Department of Economics.

“In other words, a player who serves first in a (tennis) tiebreak has the same probability to win as his opponent does, which is not the case in (soccer) penalty shootouts.”

What’s more, the researchers believe their findings are applicable to any type of competition where sequential ordering is involved, in settings ranging from chess matches to presidential candidate debates.

The International Football Association Board is currently considering whether to switch to an ABBA format, and this research suggests they should — if fair play is the goal.

Read more on the UPI website >>