Albiert: On ‘Moneyball’ and ‘Soccernomics’

From SABR member Gaetan Albiert at on November 1, 2012:

 In June 2012, the French version of the book Soccernomics was released. Soccernomics is [a version of] Moneyball for football. The book makes numerous references to the book by Michael Lewis, or more precisely the phenomenon of “Moneyball,” and in particular the management by Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane.

The book is the result of joint work of Simon Kuper, a British journalist at the Financial Times, and Stefan Szymanski, Research Fellow in Economics of Sport (French translation was provided by Bastien Drut, a doctorate in economics at the Université Paris X). On the same model as Moneyball, he questioned the practices of modern football, its traditions full of certainties and errors on those who have tried or are trying, like Bill James and Billy Beane in baseball, to develop this sport to a better use of statistics in the context of recruitment, sports management or in the game itself.


Reading Soccernomics [will] delight baseball fans, football fans, and those who love both sports. But to grasp a little more about the book and the parallels [between] baseball and football we went to meet one of its two authors, journalist Simon Kuper, who has lived in Paris for many years.


In your book Soccernomics, you make frequent reference to the phenomenon that occurred in Moneyball baseball through management by Oakland A’s Billy Beane. Was your book has been inspired by Moneyball?

It came out to support our thesis. I had not read the book when I started writing Soccernomics. Freakonomics, another American book, instead was our inspiration to give us ideas and improve football. But when I read Moneyball at the beginning of the project, I thought “wow, the problems of baseball are almost the same as football! “With very traditional coaches who refuse the provision of statistics. It was almost the same thing!

Your co-author Stefan Szymanski had already worked on the baseball angle?

The economics of sports has increased much more in the U.S. than here in Europe for several decades. American teams have always tried to earn more money. While in Europe, teams have always tried not to lose too much money. This is another idea. The economics of sports is more important there and Stefan has many contacts with American colleagues. He thought the differences between the American and European sports. It is not specialized in baseball but in football. He now works at the University of Michigan because we know a lot about the economics of sports in baseball, American football, but we know nothing or almost in European football.

Read the full article in English via Google Translate here:

Read the original version en Francais here:

Originally published: November 1, 2012. Last Updated: November 1, 2012.