If you’re a sucker for soccer — which is one of the world’s most popular sports, and which may soon take off on these shores, thanks to the arrival of David Beckham — then you should definitely check out the Volokh Conspiracy guest-blogging of our good friend and former co-clerk, Professor William Birdthistle.
Here’s a teaser, from Birdthistle’s first post:
I attempt to discern the cause of the deterioration of World Cup soccer into [such a] deplorable state. My conclusion, which I’ll explore further in coming posts, is that the rewards and punishments that referees have in their arsenal are too crude and too capable of determining the outcome of the game. The power of referees to work a game’s bouleversement with one blow of the whistle — either by sending off a star player or awarding a penalty — places officials at the center of the game.
Players then have a strong incentive to attempt to influence referees, often by bearing false witness to the facts with dives and operatic petitions. This phenomenon appears to be exacerbated at the quadrennial World Cup, where teams play relatively few games for enormous stakes and where caution and calculation often trump free-flowing football….
My proposals for addressing the situation, which I will also discuss further in future posts, focus primarily on ways of diluting and refining referees’ power.
For more thoughts, including details of his reform proposals, check out the links collected below.
Football Most Foul [Volokh Conspiracy]
The Universal Game [Volokh Conspiracy]
William Birdthistle, Guest Blogging [Volokh Conspiracy]