Indonesia | Economics

Friday, July 28, 2006

Did Juve deserve the downgrade?

A week ago, I took part in a 30-second discussion in my office on whether Juventus –as a team–deserved the downgrade it received for its managers’ match-fixing sins. After all, a friend argued, the players and the club were not involved in the match-fixing–why should they be paying the price?

So, did the whole team deserve the downgrade? Here is a way to think about it, courtesy of Richard Posner and Gary Becker., under the concept of “collective punishment”. Just replace “Lebanon” with “Juventus”, and “Israel” with “the Italian Football Federation” in those entries, and make the judgment yourself.

A little warning though: If you’re passionate about the Israel-Lebanon conflict, I suggest that you keep that passion at the door. Looking at the comments to their posts, some commentators brought it with them hence missing out an interesting debate behind rationales for inter-group strategic behaviours.

Some tasters, from Posner:

The theory behind these rules—the theory behind collective punishment in general—is that someone other than the actual perpetrator of a wrongful act may have more information that he could, if motivated, use to prevent the act than the government has…Collective punishment can properly be criticized when the cost of punishment to the innocent members of the collective is disproportionate to the benefits…

As for the conflict in Lebanon, however, a nation is undoubtedly responsible for predatory acts committed against another nation by groups operating openly on the nation's territory. That responsibility is an example of the kind of collective responsibility that warrants collective punishment for its breach…
Followed by a rejoinder from Becker:
I believe that collective responsibility in…many other situations is inappropriate because those being punished have little ability to deter the injurious behavior that is being discouraged…Collective punishment of leading Nazis was appropriate…[however], it would be more far-fetched to hold the German people responsible for the election of Hitler since he took steps to prevent the German people from voting him out of office.
Back to Juventus, did it deserve its collective punishment? I think so. With my very limited knowledge of football teams, I suspect that these are small enough that club members can “deter the injurious behavior that is being discouraged”. But for such punishments to be effective, the Italians need to be less generous.


  • Interesting. We know collective punishment is not new in sports. The most famous case maybe the post-Heysel ban on all English clubs from participating in European competitions for 5 years. The disaster was blamed on Liverpool fans rightly or not, but the punishment was given to all English clubs and their fans. If we look at how well-behaved the English fans at the last World Cup, you might argue, hey it works! If you look at what those lost years cost English clubs in terms of quality, ooh it's so costly (cue jokes of England WC performance). Anyone care to calculate the welfare gains/losses?

    By Blogger Ujang, at 8/05/2006 05:36:00 am  

  • For Ujang,
    A question: If a policy is successful in achieving its objective, is it a successful policy if there are side effects?

    By Blogger Arya, at 8/07/2006 01:07:00 am  

  • As economists, we can't help but worry about the unintended consequences of policies...

    By Blogger Ujang, at 8/07/2006 03:44:00 am  

  • ... if only ceteris paribus were real..

    By Anonymous wee beastie, at 8/07/2006 07:58:00 pm  

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