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Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

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About the author and department

Personal webpage:

Management Department:


Relevant research

Palacios-Huerta, I. (2003) Professionals Play Minimax. Review of Economic Studies 70(3), pp 395-415.

Apesteguia, J. and Palacios-Huerta, I. (2010) Psychological Pressure in Competitive Environments: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment”. American Economic Review 100(5), pp 2548-2564.

Summary of research:


Evidence of impact

Direct application to practice

The dataset, empirical methodologies and the results of the tests employed and developed in this research were used to provide advice and recommendations for the following professional football clubs and national teams:

1. Chelsea FC in the Final of the Champions League Chelsea vs Manchester United (Moscow, May 2008)

“Palacios-Huerta’s penalty analysis has my full endorsement”

--Avram Grant, Chelsea coach, 2008 Champions League Final

2. Portmouth FC in the Final of the FA Cup Portsmouht vs Chelsea (London, 2009)

“The level of detail in the Palacios-Huerta report was very impressive”

--David Lampitt, Portsmouth chief executive

3. Barcelona FC in the Final of the Champions League Barcelona vs Manchester United (Rome, May 2009)

4. England in the World Cup Quarterfinal England vs Germany, Southafrica, June 2010

5. Holland in the World Cup Final Holland vs Spain, South Africa, June 2010

“Before the World Cup Final of 2010, Ignacio Palacios-Huerta supplied us with a detailed report on Spain’s penalty-takers, and on the tendencies of the Spanish goalkeeper at penalties. The report gave us valuable additional information and analysis on each player. We were highly impressed by the amount of detail in the report, and would recommend his penalty reports to other teams.”

--Ruud Hesp, Goalkeeping Coach, Holland National Team

“We were very confident we would have won a shoot-out”

--Bert van Marwijk, Holland National Team coach, 2010 World Cup Final

Media coverage

Penalty shoot-out: how to take the perfect spot kicks. The Telegraph. 31 July 2009.

Champions League 2008: Analyzing one of the most iconic shootouts in history. Bleacher Report. 1 July 2011.

Penalty shootouts ‘unfair’ say researchers. 16 December 2010.

Keep your eyes on the stats. Le Monde Diplomatique. July 2013.

World Cup: Teams lacking shoot-out data will pay the penalty. Financial Times. 1 July 2014.

Behavioural Insights and the World Cup: penalty shoot-outs. The Behavioural Insights Team. 10 June 2014.

The beautiful data set: The World Cup can help test economic theories. New York Times Sunday Review. 13 June 2014.

Twelve yards: the art and psychology of the perfect penalty by BenLyttleton – digested read. The Guardian. 1 July 2014.

The Belgian goalkeeper has a penalty pattern. Can the US team exploit it? 1 July 2014.

Book citations

Three books in which the research was quoted or referenced:

Kuper, S. and Szymanski, S. (2009) Soccernomics. Nation Books.

Sala-i-Martin, X. (2010) Pues Yo Lo Veo Asi. Plaza & Janes.

Kuper, S. (2011) The Football Men: Up Close with the Giants of the Modern Game. Simon & Schuster.


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