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Decentralization and football


  • Ignacio Lago
  • Carlos Lago Peñas
  • Santiago Lago Peñas


We argue that decentralization of economic and political power makes a substantial difference in football. We demonstrate, with analyses of 35 European democratic countries over the period 1950–2010, that regional autonomy boosts the competition among clubs from different regions and results in a greater competitive balance of domestic football leagues. This first-moment effect creates an advantage for clubs from decentralized countries in international competitions. Evidence from the first 18 editions of the UEFA Champions League shows that clubs from decentralized countries have a greater chance of winning, or at least playing in the final, than those from centralized countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Ignacio Lago & Carlos Lago Peñas & Santiago Lago Peñas, 2018. "Decentralization and football," Working Papers. Collection A: Public economics, governance and decentralization 1801, Universidade de Vigo, GEN - Governance and Economics research Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:gov:wpaper:1801

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ignacio Lago & Carlos Lago-Peñas & Santiago Lago-Peñas, 2016. "Democracy and Football," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1282-1294, November.
    2. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Santiago Lago-Peñas & Agnese Sacchi, 2017. "The Impact Of Fiscal Decentralization: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 1095-1129, September.
    3. Jeffery Borland, 2003. "Demand for Sport," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 478-502, Winter.
    4. Wladimir Andreff, 2015. "Disequilibrium Sports Economics: Competitive Imbalance and Budget Constraints," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01305633, HAL.
    5. Brancati, Dawn, 2008. "The Origins and Strengths of Regional Parties," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 135-159, January.
    6. Wladimir Andreff, 2015. "Disequilibrium Sports Economics: Competitive Imbalance and Budget Constraints," Post-Print hal-01305633, HAL.
    7. World Bank & Asian Development Bank & United Nations Development Program, 2000. "Vietnam 2010 : Entering the 21st Century," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14977, The World Bank.
    8. José Cheibub & Jennifer Gandhi & James Vreeland, 2010. "Democracy and dictatorship revisited," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 143(1), pages 67-101, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Juan Luis Gómez-Reino & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez, 2013. "An international perspective on the determinants of local government fragmentation," Chapters, in: Santiago Lago-Peñas & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez (ed.), The Challenge of Local Government Size, chapter 2, pages 8-54, Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    Competitive balance; Decentralization; Football; Identities.;

    JEL classification:

    • H30 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - General
    • H50 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - General
    • H62 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Deficit; Surplus

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