Luck vs. skill
: looking at determinants of success through the lens of football

  • Pascal Riepel (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The game of football is experiencing significant changes in the way clubs operate as well as how the game is played. These developments impact the way clubs and players thrive in their quest to achieve success and greatness. Two of the most important components for achieving success are luck and skill. This dissertation examines the influences luck and skill have on the success of clubs and also on players. As even less skilled teams became more competitive over time, football is often a game of small margins. To make the best decision in these moments, you need either a higher level of skill or a little luck. Based on qualitative research in form of expert interviews, together with in-depth analysis of current academic literature, there seems to be a strong indication that a high level of skill will often be successful over the medium and long term, however it will not be able to guarantee success in the short term. That is where the component of luck comes into the picture. Due to generally better conditions (better players and coaching education, data availability, organizational structures, greater professionalism) especially for smaller clubs, matches are won by smaller margins. All of this suggests that there is currently a larger pool of mid-talented players, resulting from a narrowing skill gap. On the other hand, highly talented players are increasing and experts expect this number to continue to rise in the future.
Date of Award4 May 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorPeter V. Rajsingh (Supervisor)


  • Football
  • Luck
  • Skill
  • Performance
  • Competitive advantage
  • Talent
  • Sports
  • Organizations
  • Players
  • Teams
  • Clubs


  • Mestrado em Gestão e Administração de Empresas

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