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The Effect of Incentives on Sabotage: The Case of Spanish Football


  • Julio del Corral

    () (University of Oviedo-Fundacion Observatorio, Economico del Deporte)

  • Juan Prieto-Rodriguez

    (University of Oviedo-Fundacion Observatorio, Economico del Deporte)

  • Rob Simmons

    (Lancaster University Management School)


A growing literature examines adverse behavior as unintended consequences of incentives. We test Lazear's hypothesis that states that if rewards were dependent solely on relative performance then an increase in rewards would induce agents to engage in sabotage activity to reduce rivals' output. We test this hypothesis using the natural experiment of a rule change in Spanish football, the increase in points for winning a league match from two to three. We find, consistent with Lazear's hypothesis, that teams in a winning position were more likely to commit offences punishable by dismissal of a player after this change.

Suggested Citation

  • Julio del Corral & Juan Prieto-Rodriguez & Rob Simmons, 2010. "The Effect of Incentives on Sabotage: The Case of Spanish Football," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 11(3), pages 243-260, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:jospec:v:11:y:2010:i:3:p:243-260

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    Cited by:

    1. Filippin, Antonio & van Ours, Jan C, 2012. "Run For Fun: Intrinsic Motivation and Physical Performance," CEPR Discussion Papers 8873, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Dato, Simon & Nieken, Petra, 2014. "Gender differences in competition and sabotage," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 100(C), pages 64-80.
    3. Loukas Balafoutas & Florian Lindner & Matthias Sutter, 2012. "Sabotage in Tournaments: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 65(4), pages 425-441, November.
    4. Lee Yoong Hon & Rasyad A. Parinduri, 2016. "Does the Three-Point Rule Make Soccer More Exciting? Evidence From a Regression Discontinuity Design," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 17(4), pages 377-395, May.
    5. Brown, Alasdair & Chowdhury, Subhasish M., 2017. "The hidden perils of affirmative action: Sabotage in handicap contests," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 273-284.
    6. Peter Dawson, 2014. "Refereeing and infringement of the rules," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football, chapter 24, pages 401-418 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    7. Subhasish Chowdhury & Oliver Gürtler, 2015. "Sabotage in contests: a survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 164(1), pages 135-155, July.
    8. Jacek Rothert & Douglas N. VanDerwerken & Brice M. Nguelifack, 2016. "Does the threat of suspension curb dangerous behavior in soccer? A case study from the Premier League," Departmental Working Papers 52, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.
    9. Giacomo De Luca & Jeroen Schokkaert & Jo Swinnen, 2011. "Cultural Differences, Assimilation and Behavior: Player Nationality and Penalties in Football," LICOS Discussion Papers 29711, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    10. Nikiforakis, Nikos & Oechssler, Jörg & Shah, Anwar, 2015. "Managerial bonuses, subordinates’ disobedience, and coercion," Working Papers 0589, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    11. Karol Kempa & Hannes Rusch, 2016. "Misconduct and Leader Behaviour in Contests – New Evidence from European Football," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201629, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    12. J. Atsu Amegashie, 2013. "Sabotage in Contests: An Overview," CESifo Working Paper Series 4422, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item


    incentives; sabotage; rules; red cards; football;

    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism


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