Democracy and football
In this paper we explore to what extent political regimes affect the competitive balance in domestic football (soccer) leagues. Relying on data from around 50 European countries and over 2,000 domestic leagues, we show that the percentage of league competitions won by the most successful club in the country is substantially lower in democracies than in non-democracies. Democratic transitions and higher levels of democracy trigger pressures to increase the competitive balance in football leagues in two ways. First, the link between non-democracies and specific teams breaks when a country experiences a transition to democracy. Second, the economic liberalization that takes place in transitions to democracy disperses resources and generates competition among descending and ascending teams. Finally, the competitive balance of domestic leagues has not been greatly affected by the Bosman transfer ruling, a sectorial liberalization shock on football labor markets.
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