This rule itself is definitely worth a closer look, and, let’s call it that, slightly provocatively, “get to the bottom of it”. It becomes interesting, by the way, if you ask a random person (who is generally interested in football) about it. What were they thinking when they introduced her? At this point, everyone may ask themselves what their own answer would be? What was the purpose of its introduction, what was expected of it, what did it achieve? These are precisely the questions that will now be explored here.
1) How did the idea come about?
2) What was the ultimate purpose of the introduction?
- to what extent were the goals reviewed?
- to what extent was the purpose fulfilled?
- fair or unfair? Actual consequences?
- a little mathematics on the subject
A decisive additional aspect, accompanying this rule, must be urgently mentioned here, which is indispensable, no matter which answer one tends to give oneself. The driving force must have been that some kind of grievance was observed, which one wanted to counteract. This is actually a tautology, a self-proving statement. Nevertheless, as a brief justification: every rule change should unquestionably represent an improvement, insofar as it must go back to a recognised grievance. Or should we assume: no, there are too many risk patients among the spectators and we have to take them into account by depriving them of tension?
This part of the justification for its introduction would at the same time be proof – to all doubters of the meaningfulness of proposed rule modifications and rethinking in favour of excitement, action, goals — that those who introduced the rule must also have been interested in increasing the entertainment value of a football match. In general, this idea is the main reason for writing the whole text.
The “proof” that the introduction must be based on the observation of a lack of entertainment value is therefore trivial and must be accepted for the time being. However, it is a kind of “artificial intervention”. For fundamentally, the awarding of three points for a win is unfair compared to the awarding of one for a draw. The skewed table pictures, induced by this, may be another clue that perhaps there is more “skewed” about it? Another, perhaps, is the one that can be clearly taken from a frequent reporter’s saying, even if at the moment it is unreflective on the part of the speaker, nevertheless brought to the point (namely the ONE), dictated into the microphone after the end of the game: “A draw that doesn’t really help anyone”. It was thus recognised that somehow BOTH teams had been robbed of half a point, i.e. a small injustice had been perpetrated on these two right now.
Otherwise there would be the simple reason: why was it settled for decades with two points per win and one each for a draw? Exactly. Because that was the original, simple and fair solution. A change in this simple justice would have to have more than tangible causes? Alternatively, one could also think about introducing a dice that results in a goal here and there (with double 6, the suggestion!)? Could be exciting, couldn’t it?
Back to the purer form of objectivity.
Re 1. how did one come up with the idea?
It is mentioned elsewhere that it was probably connected with the awarding of the 1994 World Cup to the USA. The USA wanted to have an attractive tournament in their country, and they certainly recognised the connection: more goals – more fun – more excitement – more entertainment – more spectators. One possible attempt: a win brings three points, in the group stage. Surely there should be a few more goals in it? Everyone wants a winning goal, even if the score is tied, and will attack for better or worse? Surely it must be possible to squeeze out one or two more goals, and thus at least one or two more dramas? At least a few great games and exciting scenes.
Also already acknowledged: for a group of four with only one round played, this method is not so far-fetched. Italy progressed in 1990 with three draws in the preliminary round – the defensive artists on the rise. Put a stop to that. Simple calculation: Italy draws three times (again). All the other games will be won by a winner. The inevitable consequence: Italy would be out. Either they are fourth or third (third if one of the other three teams loses the other two games, fourth if the teams beat each other in turn; then every other team would have four points, Italy only three). Translated, this means: Italy must win at least one match. So, of course, must every other team. Consequence: everyone plays for at least this one victory right from the start. It is better to shiver now than later (of course, this applies mainly to the favourites).
The basic idea was born. Now, some critical and attentive observers had certainly noticed that striving for a draw was quite common practice in everyday league life (and was becoming more and more so). So it was only logical that at least once they dared to take the plunge: what if they could also earn a whopping three points for a win in league play (the national championships, but also in the leagues below; can’t hurt, after all)? Of course: it seemed worth a try.
Re 2: What was the ultimate purpose of the introduction, what did one expect from it?
This question has perhaps already been answered in essence: it was noticeable that the behaviour of at least one of the two teams was too often geared towards scoring a single point. In other words: defensive. Just don’t let them concede a goal. In front? Let’s see if the others get too wild.
Not even completely unreasonable, this thought. The lure of three points is being advertised, right from the start. According to this, we should now be witnessing an offensive spectacle, even more so when the score is still tied with about 10-15 minutes to go, just in the period when the boring back-and-forth passing of the ball (used to be?!) could be observed. More or less, there was almost a kind of agreement of the construction: “If you don’t hurt me, I won’t hurt you”. Certainly limited to two teams at eye level. But there are a lot of those, aren’t there? Mid-table against the relegation zone or vice versa, both with a chance of going up, neighbours in the table or even the better team away from home, and then satisfied with a draw?
The actual implications, however, are of a different nature. First of all, a few statistics should be mentioned.
1993: Draw: 29.29% Goals ø: 2,936
1994: Draw: 27.21% Goals ø: 2,918
1995: Draw: 28.10% Goals: ø 3,016
1996: Draw: 35.29% Goals ø: 2.715
1997: Draw: 22.87% Goals ø: 2.977
1998: Draw: 27.78% Goals ø: 2.879
Average with two-point rule: Draw: 28.20%
Goals ø: 2.957
Average with three-point rule: Draw: 28.64%
Goals ø: 2.857
It is quite clear: the rule has not had the effect it was hoped for. The number of draws has risen, the average number of goals has fallen, and one can gladly describe it as stagnation, which continues to persist. Here are three more recent examples (as of June 2017):
2015: Draw: 26.79% Goals ø: 2.754
2016: Draw: 23.20% Goals ø: 2,830
2017: Draw: 24.18% Goals ø: 2,866
In fact, the draw frequency would have gone down slightly, but on the other hand, the goal average would not have gone up. Sure, the Bundesliga is booming and it’s just not an issue, boredom. “Draw shenanigans” do not exist – however they came about. Nevertheless, the overall verdict remains: the introduction of the three-point rule has not had any discernible effect on playing behaviour (as can be read from statistics).
It seems helpful to compare at least one other league. The second German football league is a good example. Here are the figures before the introduction of the three-point rule in the 1995/1996 season:
1993: Draw: 30.04% Goals ø: 2.618
1994: Draw: 30.26% Goals ø: 2,500
1995: Draw: 33.33% Goals: ø 2,816
1996: Draw: 26.14% Goals ø: 2.584
1997: Draw: 30.39% Goals ø: 2.686
1998: Draw: 32.45% Goals ø: 2.534
Average with two-point rule: Draw: 31.00%
Goals ø: 2.632
Average with three-point rule: Draw: 29.66%
Goals ø: 2.601
In the second league, therefore, the number of draws would actually have decreased slightly (in total, 12 games out of 918 were saved in draws; this would be negligible or simply subject to other statistical fluctuations; in other words, the statistician would have to classify this deviation as coincidental and not be able to attribute it to a rule change).
The goal average has not risen over time anyway, so that at least this (presumably hoped-for) partial effect has not occurred.
Alternatively, here too are some more recent examples:
2015: Draw: 31.69% Goals ø: 2,493
2016: Draw: 28.10% Goals ø: 2,640
2017: Draw: 28.75% Goals ø: 2,486
These examples also prove: nothing has moved.
Now one could ask for causes: why does the lure of the possible three points, which would so significantly enhance the one point currently in hand in the event of a drawn match, not achieve any discernible effect on the pitch?
Furthermore, only the statistics serve as evidence for the time being. However, everyone may ask themselves: has anything changed? Does one see an induced offensive spirit since then, has the number of dramas or spectacles experienced increased? Do we hear coaches talking about “deliberately increasing the risk” because they were desperate for a three-pointer? It does happen from time to time that sometimes one team, sometimes the other, sometimes even both teams play more forward and that even a commentator recognises: “Both want the three-pointer”. But such games would have been seen earlier (whether one becomes two or one becomes three: more is more and even the smaller gain is a gain). In addition, these are often games of the type “high favourite against underdog”, and the higher favourite then naturally wants to win anyway (but also wanted this earlier) and occasionally it happens that players on the pitch sense – can also come from the coach – that the opponent is now soft or weakened and that it is now worthwhile to step up the forward gear (even substituting an offensive player, although still the sparrow in the hand, which is proverbially here and there preferable to…).
First of all, a little mathematics is necessary: the risk would be worthwhile – irrespective of other calculations subordinate to table or seasonal goals – if the chance of scoring a goal compared to conceding one is more favourable than 1/3.
1/3 wins you two points, 2/3 loses you one, according to the banal calculation. That would be an equal ratio, so accordingly it would not matter which one was chosen. In one third of the cases in which at least one goal is scored and the game is decided in one’s favour (and not one here, one there), one would have made three points out of one, in the other two thirds one would have conceded one goal and only lost the one point. Doesn’t that sound like a worthwhile form of risk?
Now you probably have to know football as a whole a little better to find answers to this question, in search of why the risk is not increased? This search reveals two conceivable answers.
The first possibility, purely related to the distribution of chances: every coach knows – and transfers this to the players – that the term “increased risk” is not pure fantasy. The risk of playing on the attack, of trying to score a goal, is not possible without conceding the risk of conceding a goal. However, depending on the offensive orientation taken, this risk increases proportionally more than the chance of scoring the goal (hence: “increased risk”, otherwise it should just read “risk”; chance increased here AND increased there; a little gambled, but no disproportion).
This consideration gets fodder by looking at alternative scores: suppose it is not a draw, but one team is ahead by one goal. A more than frequent case. Now, at some point, one team has to increase the risk (unlike in the tied score). In all these cases, one can observe the increasing risk of conceding the decisive goal on the counterattack. You don’t want to take it, but you are forced to, here the advancing duration of the game is mainly responsible for the further increase in risk, dictated by the score and the shortening remaining time. As the 90th minute approaches, there are the more frequent and/or greater counter-attacking chances. In stoppage time, you often see an overhand play in the opponent’s half. All the defenders have moved up, no one is there anymore, a huge chance to score arises, often the decisive goal is the result.
Now there is no way to mathematically calculate this exactly. Even if it were not (exactly) possible, one could still express a certain suspicion: the danger of conceding a goal is greater than the opposing chance of scoring one, if one goes for it under all circumstances. To put it in a nutshell: if you take the goalkeeper out – as is almost regularly the case in the closing minutes – in an offensive standard situation, then this measure will increase your own chances of scoring, but it is more than obvious that if the ball is lost – and remember: the goalkeeper is not replaced by a defender in this position, no, he is the last defender – the goal situation on the other side becomes much more dangerous. Nevertheless, the suspicion would remain, in the most general terms: the risk would actually have to be worthwhile. The required probability distribution of 1/3 to score a goal and gain two points versus the 2/3 chance to concede one should be fulfilled. If forced to estimate: this could be 40/60, for example. 40% of scoring a goal, 60% of conceding the goal. Neither a bird in the hand nor a pigeon on the roof in this case. But the conclusion remains: the risk is worth it. You would actually have to go for the winning goal.
At this point, one would be forced to doubt the expertise of the coaches, who nevertheless seem to dictate to their players the more cautious behaviour, which in practice continues to be the norm…! Not at all. For clarification, however, one would again have to venture a little excursion into psychology, with then presumably assumed dubious reliability, especially since it is usually so denied. As soon as one confronts a person with an interpretation of his action, shifting it to the psychological field, the reflex is also almost certain to be denial, completely independent of the truth content, about which, since it is a “reflex”, he cannot have thought at all. Of course, this could also be explained with the simple sentence: “You don’t see through me and even if you did, you lack any possibility of proof. I deny – contradiction on your part is now futile.”
Whereby here again a certain exculpatory material is offered, which in its way of explanation at the same time exposes this presumed stupidity as the opposite of it.
The explanation offered is multi-part and thus perhaps multi-layered as follows: the score is tied and the teams are in a certain way leering at each other. Both might have mathematically correctly calculated that it would be sensible and worthwhile to go on the attack, perhaps even empirically established in training games or units that they should do so. However, this would at the same time force the opponent to behave in the same way. Theoretically, both would have to go for victory – which they then do by wanting to let the opponent make the first move. Absolutely logical: “you can come quietly”. But it doesn’t happen. The demand is repeated: “You HAVE to come at last. Haven’t you calculated, determined, whatever?” Still nothing. “If you don’t attack now, then you are stupid.” Still nothing. Because: the other side has exactly the same statements ready. A kind of paradox, but no one behaves wrongly. Logically, the distribution of chances remains the same. Anyone who behaved differently and entered the attack would be stupid. Because: the opponent has only been waiting for this small shift in the odds in his own favour!
It doesn’t work – and this is exactly what the statistics “prove”. It has not worked, no other conclusion is permissible.
Since there was talk of complexity, there is a second point to be mentioned: man is perhaps a highly complex being and assumes himself to be superior to other living beings because he is able to act “rationally”. Only he has first invented this term himself in order to demonstrate his superiority with it. As a rule, however, one would suspect that a decision made by reason is not really superior to an intuitive one. On the contrary, one could almost say, and express the more far-reaching suspicion: the mind partly gets in the way. That is to say: one should actually make a good decision quickly, whereby it would again be indifferent what one decides on (as a possible example). The mind somehow advises you to weigh things up – and the result would be a kind of “undecision” that would not be appropriate to the situation.
Now this is by no means intended to be a deep psychological treatise. It is simply a few marginal considerations that may help to gain a better insight. The phenomenon that emerges here is the fear of losing. The bird in the hand is always somehow dearer than the dove on the roof, especially since you would probably have to give up the bird first. To stay with the image: you say to the sparrow: “Stay here for a moment, I’ll try to get the pigeon up there; if it works, you’re free and can go, if not, I’d rather take you – if you stay.” But this is precisely the crux of the matter: the sparrow would probably not stay.
It is therefore a very simple reason, to which the coach is partly at the mercy of, since “losing is forbidden” also applies to him, but partly he would even be at the mercy of the players, since they simply do not follow the instruction. “Everybody forward!!!” he shouts from the sidelines and the players inwardly tap their foreheads: “Didn’t he count? It’s 1-1, we’re not just going to run forward, a point is a point.”
They just don’t go along with it. Either way, however, this is quite enough reason to avoid the risk, even if it would be mathematically justified to go for it. “Intuitively”, one opts for caution as long as all is not lost.
And it is precisely at this point that one could go directly to the third point, which, however, only provides a kind of proof. Whereby this would create just as much enlightenment, but at the same time the impossibility of behaving “logically”, “rationally”, “reasonably” or comparable.
This “evidence” is basically provided by the betting market. If someone knew better or doubted the assessments there, he would be cordially invited to enrich himself there, and not insignificantly, because this kind of assessment of a game is given worldwide and uniformly (nuanced only the small differences).
Far out and readers tired? Maybe, but it is just a little more complex and a patient introduction is partly necessary. Take any game and look at the Asian form of betting on the market, which is offered for betting both before the game and during the game.
Let’s calmly take an even game. The Asian line would then be a “draw no bet”. “Money back in case of a draw” could be translated. You can choose one side or the other. In the event of a draw, everyone gets their money back, winners only if there is also a winner in the game. At the same time, losers only get their money back if they bet on the wrong horse.
The exciting thing here is the development of the odds. The odds are constantly changed and adapted to the game and betting behaviour. So if a team plays better than you could have expected, the odds on that team usually go down. All of these are just insignificant little details. This entire section only becomes significant when a goal is scored. If nothing else has happened on the field (example: NO red card), then the odds become dramatic. The leading team is valued less from this point on. The betting offer continues to be based on the current score, and bets are settled from the time of the conclusion of the match. So: the line remains draw no bet, as an example, but now the 1:0 (or even a 2:1) would be the result at which you would get your money back. Because: from the time of the bet (at 1:0) the result would remain a draw. The result from the match time from the time of the bet is taken into account.
Details from the betting market. Important to note: the team that scored the goal is valued lower than before the goal, although they may well have been the superior team before the goal (contrary to the expectation that the game would be even). The reason here the really relevant one. Repeatedly, before that one is mentioned: provided one had a better opinion here or quasi doubted the statements that now follow, one would have a good reason to participate in the betting market. The balance sheets will give good information on who was better with his assessment.
The statements are as follows: those who lead become a little more relaxed, calmer, less energetic in their attempts to extend this lead compared to their behaviour before this lead. One becomes frugal. “We’ve already won, now all we need is the final whistle.” This behaviour, feeling, stands somewhat in the way of the highest performance capacity. “Frugality” is not a good advisor, and yet it creeps in unintentionally. Only one of the aspects.
The other is as follows: those who are lagging behind get a little into “panic mode”, which is actually capable of releasing inhuman forces, if simulated in an exemplary manner. The induced panic situation due to being behind is not life-threatening and therefore does not release inhuman forces, yet these are far superior to the counter-reaction of the other side (in the form of frugality). A few more percent are activated, which might sound something like this: “If we don’t finally do something now, we’ll lose the game. Wake up, men!”
So these are precisely preliminary considerations, only basically verifiable ones. You are in a position to increase your chances of scoring if the score requires it. However, this is almost exclusively the case if you are behind (alternatively, of course, if you “miss a set target”; the score is 1:1 but you would be relegated, eliminated, miss out on a Champions League place, whatever). A heavy favourite might do so, because a draw would make him look ridiculous, but otherwise this behaviour could not be transferred to a drawn match. The coach might want his players to switch to “panic mode” now, but the situation on the scoreboard does not allow it. Reason or not: it is simply not possible to enforce such behaviour, which is in line with the three-point rule that was devised and introduced on a random basis. Football continues to be played, the goal may be to score one more goal than the opponent, but a draw is an alternative that cannot be ruled out and which has sufficient appeal to evade it. Draw? OK so far. Not lost again.
Only the commentators, of course, have not yet internalised or understood the principle, but have already recognised the problem behind it, namely injustice. Because often enough you hear after a draw: “doesn’t really help anyone”. Absolutely right to the point. Because: both were unlawfully deprived of half a point. That is unjust AND doesn’t really help, precisely because of that.
If one nevertheless feels committed to the recognisable goal of providing more excitement and entertainment, it seems that the levers are to be found elsewhere. This has achieved nothing. Nevertheless, there is a recognisable good intention and proof of the basis: more action is desired.