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Three of the most celebrated football leagues in the world include the English Premier League (EPL), Italy’s Serie A, and Spain’s La Liga. To date, little football research has been conducted that attempts to determine why these leagues are so successful. What is it that the EPL, La Liga, and Serie A do that fosters such a high caliber of play, and what pitch factors, if any, either (1) contrast or (2) connect these prestigious leagues? The paucity of rigorous inquiry has not deterred popular speculation—common folklore has not waited for hard data. Experts rush to characterize the perceived performance characteristics of these leagues with little hesitation. And these assumptions have, to some degree, taken on a life of their own: football’s answer to urban legend.

This paper searches for key similarities and differences between these leagues that are bolstered by statistically significant findings as well as evidence to identify the key pitch factors that are associated with a team’s ultimate success within its respective league.


This article was published by De Gruyter, and is available at:

© 2011 by the American Statistical Association