Research Roundup – The Best Sub Strategy, Will Financial Fair Play Ruin Man City, and Why You Shouldn't Always Fire Your Coach

Research Roundup – The Best Sub Strategy, Will Financial Fair Play Ruin Man City, and Why You Shouldn’t Always Fire Your Coach

Welcome to the first installment of a new Café Futebol series – The Research Roundup. In these posts, we take a long look at the newest and most interesting soccer literature and let you know what’s going on. We walk through the papers and then highlight key insights and concerns...
The Absurdity of MLS Nomenclature

The Absurdity of MLS Nomenclature

By European standards, Major League Soccer, the highest level on the footballing pyramid in both the United States and Canada, is still in its infancy.  After countless failed leagues plagued by infighting, mismanagement, and disorganization, the idea for Major League Soccer emerged as part of the USA’s successful bid to...
Cabeza Mágica - The King of Ecuador

Cabeza Mágica – The King of Ecuador

When one talks about the rich history of Latin American football, it can quite safely be assumed than one is normally speaking of the disproportionate amount of influence a country as small as Uruguay has had, the speed with which the beautiful game took off in the early part of...
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Latin America’s Futebol Arte vs Futebol Força dichotomy at the 2014 World Cup

Latin America’s Futebol Arte vs Futebol Força dichotomy at the 2014 World Cup

For the first time in World Cup history a European side triumphed on Latin American soil ending an 84 year record. The Latin Americans had survived the Czech’s taking a surprise lead in the Santiago final of 1962, a nerve-jangling moment for Argentina (and its junta) as Rob Rensenbrink’s late effort rebounded off the post...
Is a Red Card Ever Worth It? The Data Says Yes

Is a Red Card Ever Worth It? The Data Says Yes

Since its inception in 1970, the red card has come to signify the most brutal individual punishment a referee is capable of handing out. Having a teammate sent off almost always forces a team to fall back into their own half, relying on counterattacks that take advantage of space left by opponents. If they get...
A National Team Without a Nation: the Story of the CIS National Team

A National Team Without a Nation: the Story of the CIS National Team

This is Part 3 of a three part series chronicling the effects of the end of the Cold War on football in Europe.  [Part 1]|[Part 2]  Between the time that the USSR national team qualified for Euro 1992 and the tournament began, the Soviet Union fell victim to the end of the Cold War.  No longer...
The End of History and the Demise of East German Football

The End of History and the Demise of East German Football

This is Part 2 of a 3 part series.  To read Part 1, click here The draw to determine the groups for the UEFA Euro 1992 qualifying cycle took place on 2 February, 1990 in Stockholm.  By that point the Berlin wall had already come down and West German chancellor Helmut Kohl had announced a...

The End of History and the 1990 World Cup

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series.  Part 2 is here. In the midst of the 1989 revolutions that toppled Communist regimes all over Central and Eastern Europe, the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama famously wrote that the end of the Cold War was a harbinger of what he deemed “the end of...

Myth Busting: Does Playing the Second Leg at Home Actually Matter?

The Myth Most football fan will tell you that when it comes to double-legged knockout tournaments, it’s better to play at home in the second leg than away. The idea is simple – the away team has the option (luxury) to play it safe (park the bus), aim for a draw, and then bank on...

The Anschluss Match and the Martyrdom of Matthias Sindelar

In footballing circles, the term Anschluss Match generally refers to one of the most shameful moments in the history of the World Cup. Algeria, debutantes at the 1982 World Cup, shocked the world with a 2-1 victory over West Germany in their opening match.  Only a West Germany victory over Austria by a one or...

Barrilete Cósmico: Malvinas, Maradona, Argentina & England

The scoreline is familiar, as is the fateful date, but surely the title for this article should be ‘The Hand of God’? Everyone knows that this was the game when England’s brave Three Lions and the hapless officials were slyly deceived by the diminutive Argentine, and thus any retrospective of the game must take this...

Glorious Failures: Hungary’s Golden Team

This is part one of a three-part series. The Glorious Failure Phenomenon As a rule, success in football is measured by trophies.  Setting aside all ideological arguments over the merits of beauty over efficiency aside, the teams that have gone down in history are those that have won when it counts: World Cups, European Championships,...

Why ‘Three Points for a Win’ is a Loss for Football — A Closer Look Into One of the Most Important Rule Changes in Football History

An Introduction to Incentives Ask an economist how to solve a problem, and he’ll tell you incentives are the answer.1 He wouldn’t be wrong. Punishment and reward are fantastic tools for  exploiting self-interest in the service of the common good. In football, they’re made up of red cards and penalties, trophies and relegation, and always in...

Marta and the Revolution

During the course of the twentieth century many Latin American countries experienced enormous migrations to the rapidly urbanising cities, allowing football’s popularity to grow exponentially and become a significant factor in the formation of local, regional and national identity. In Uruguay the game is so deeply entrenched in the national psyche that the following saying...

Pinochet, the Cold War, and the Most Pathetic Match Ever Played

November 21, 1973. Estadio Nacional. Santiago. The match to determine the final participant of the 1974 FIFA World Cup is about to take place between Chile and the Soviet Union. The Chileans take the field and line up for the national anthem. They wave to the fans and kick off. But this is no ordinary...