Altitude as handicap in rank-order football tournaments
In 2007, based on medical reports, FIFA ruled that no international football competition could be played in stadiums with an altitude higher than 2500 meters. We provide stark evidence which supports the claim that playing in high altitude benefits the home team through two channels. First, in these scenarios, high altitude teams (HAT) do better against low altitude teams than against other high altitude teams. Second, every time that low altitude teams visit other high altitude teams they get fewer points than if they had played in a low altitude stadium. Therefore, the HAT go up in the ranking of the southamerican qualifiers for world cups, not only because of their own extra-advantage of playing in high altitudes, but also because the LAT do worse in all high altitude stadiums. According to our work, have this ruling taken effect, Ecuador would not have gone to the 2006 world cup, and therefore Ecuador's Football Federation would have lost at least 40 million dollars given out by FIFA to all teams going to the world cup.
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