The Law and Economics of the World Cup

If you didn’t see the world’s top-ranked soccer team, Spain, lose yesterday’s semifinals game of the Confederations Cup 2-0 to no. 14, the United States, you missed out. It was definitely a close match, with the Americans mounting brilliant counterattacks to counter a typically dominant Spanish side. The key to victory here  was a motivated and energetic American defense that caught the right breaks to shut the Spanish out. Despite earlier tournament losses to Brazil and Italy, this victory establishes the US as a contender in next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

But there’s more. I was particularly reminded of a 2002 paper by Mark West (U. Michigan Law) called ‘The Legal Determinants of World Cup Success‘ (non-gated through SSRN). Here is the abstract:

The “law matters” theory advanced in a series of empirical works by Rafael La Porta, Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes, Andrei Shleifer, and Robert Vishny (“LLSV”), has become a centerpiece of recent corporate law debate. Using LLSV methodology, this Article examines the relation between legal protections and soccer success, using as the dependent variable the number of points each country has in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings. The statistically significant findings reported herein may or may not have implications of momentous import for various aspects of the human experience.

For those looking for further (and more serious) background, here is the article, ‘Law and Finance‘, published in the 1998 Journal of Political Economy and co-authored by Rafael La Porta (Harvard), Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes (Harvard), Andrei Shleifer (Harvard), and Robert W. Vishny (U. Chicago).

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