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Soccer and national culture: estimating the impact of violence on 22 lads after a ball

Jose Cuesta () and Camilo Bohórquez-Peñuela

Applied Economics, 2012, vol. 44, issue 2, 147-161

Abstract: Sports have been recently conceptualized as an effective tool for development. Questioning that argument, recent evidence suggests that the practice of soccer reveals national cultures of violence prevailing in players’ countries of origin. We model violent behaviour in the soccer pitch as a function of game specific controls as well as socioeconomic, political, cultural and conflict variables characterizing players’ home countries. We construct a database for the Latin American 2008 Libertadores Cup Competition and find that across multiple specifications and estimating techniques, only game specific variables determine sanctions to violent actions. There are three compatible explanations for this result: highly skilled soccer players may not be representative average citizens; violent conflicts may not necessarily cause a violent culture affecting all corners of society; and even when violent cultures are transmitted to individual players, those values do not condition significantly their behaviour during games. After all, sports may not be a pernicious activity that intrinsically transmits violent values to youths.

Date: 2012
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DOI: 10.1080/00036846.2010.500275

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