Social Choice and Welfare

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 29–46 | Cite as

Can strategizing in round-robin subtournaments be avoided?

  • Marc PaulyEmail author
Original Paper


This paper develops a mathematical model of strategic manipulation in complex sports competition formats such as the soccer world cup or the Olympic games. Strategic manipulation refers here to the possibility that a team may lose a match on purpose in order to increase its prospects of winning the competition. In particular, the paper looks at round-robin tournaments where both first- and second-ranked players proceed to the next round. This standard format used in many sports gives rise to the possibility of strategic manipulation, as exhibited recently in the 2012 Olympic games. An impossibility theorem is proved which demonstrates that under a number of reasonable side-constraints, strategy-proofness is impossible to obtain.


Olympic Game Impossibility Result Social Choice Theory Irrelevant Alternative Impossibility Theorem 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank two anonymous referees as well as Jesse Alama for their helpful comments regarding an earlier version of this paper.

Supplementary material

355_2013_767_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (42 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 42 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of GroningenGL GroningenThe Netherlands

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