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European qualifiers to the 2018 FIFA World Cup can be manipulated

Csató, László (2017): European qualifiers to the 2018 FIFA World Cup can be manipulated.

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Tournament organizers supposedly design rules such that a team cannot be better off by exerting a lower effort. It is shown that the European qualifiers to the 2018 FIFA World Cup are not strategy-proof in this sense: a team might be eliminated if it wins in the last matchday of group stage, while it advances to play-offs by playing a draw, provided that all other results do not change. An example reveals that this scenario could have happened in October 2017, after four-fifth of all matches have already been played. We present a model and identify nine incentive incompatible qualifiers to recent UEFA European Championships or FIFA World Cups. A mechanism is suggested in order to seal the way of manipulation in group-based qualification systems.

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