This is a review of the research conducted by Keith Ingersoll, Edmund Malesky, and Sebastian M. Saiegh applying ordinary least squares regression.
Diversity is a hot topic across all aspects of society, including sports. Teams need to balance the costs and benefits of diversity. Costs include dealing with language and cultural barriers while benefits are a diversity of talents, perspectives and experiences that help facilitate creative problem solving in team situations. The question ultimately is whether diversity affects soccer teams’ performance.
Attempting to answer this question is done by examining the teams in the top European soccer leagues, namely England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain and their achievements at the Union of European Football Associations Champions League tournament between the years 2003 to 2012.
Critical to this research is the fact that players from fifty countries play for these teams. Teams who qualify to play in the tournament are the most influential, wealthiest, and talented soccer teams in the world. This wealth allows these teams to build scouting programs that scour the world for the best possible players.
Players from different parts of the world experience different playing styles, coaching styles and strategies as they grow in the sport through the years. Each player then brings this unique set of abilities with them to their team, broadening the knowledge base of the team, providing new ideas that could benefit the team and give them that needed edge to outscore their competitors.
There are also costs associated with hiring players from other countries. The most obvious one is the language barrier, necessitating additional personnel and training to overcome this obstacle. The language barrier also increases the possibility of miscommunication among the players on the field during a game. Teams consisting of players from a wide variety of ethnicities may experience greater discontent within the team as conflicts arise due to different beliefs and cultural backgrounds.
As most soccer games are low scoring, a goal differential is used as the main variable, rather than goals scored. Not every team plays the same number of games during a tournament and in order to combat any biases this can create the average goal differential per game played during the year is calculated for each team. Average points obtained and winning percentages are also taken into account.
Examining diversity goes beyond looking at the numbers of foreign players on a team to the scope of their differences. This was determined using linguistic difference as a measurement within the model.
The model determines the per-game goal differential of each team, taking into account the variables of diversity, average linguistic distance between the players and wealth of the team. This measure of team performance is assessed using ordinary least squares regression. The results of this regression clearly indicate that diversity is strongly correlated with team performance and that teams with greater diversity outperform their less diverse counterparts.
Teams can look at this information and examine the diversity within their own teams. It will help them decide if gaining greater diversity among their players would provide greater benefits than costs, allowing the team to reach even greater heights.
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