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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 its last match in the group stage, while it advances to play-offs by playing a draw, provided that all other results remain the same. The scenario could have happened in October 2017, after four-fifth of all matches have already been played. We present a theoretical model and identify nine incentive incompatible qualifiers to recent UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups. A mechanism is suggested in order to seal the way of manipulation in similar group-based qualification systems.

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