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Football (soccer game) is one of the most popular sports in the World, including in Europe. It is associated with important betting activities. A common belief, widely spread in gambling activities, is that knowledge and expertise on football lead to better prediction skills on the matches' outcomes. If mistaken, this belief should be considered as a form of "illusion of control".The aim of this study was to examine whether football experts are better than nonexperts at predicting football match scores.
Two hundred and fifty-eight persons took part in the study: 21.3% as football experts; 54.3% as laypersons (non-initiated to football), and 24.4% as football amateurs. They predicted the scores of the first 10 matches of the Euro-Foot 2008. A logistic regression was carried out to assess the correlation between the accuracy of the forecasted scores and the expertise, age, and gender of the participants.
The variables assessed did not predict the accuracy of scoring prognostics (R2 = 5%).
CONCLUSIONS: Expertise, age, and gender did not have an impact on the accuracy of the football match prognostics. Therefore, the belief that football expertise improves betting skills is no more than a cognitive distortion called the "illusion of control." Gamblers may benefit from psychological interventions that target illusion of control related to their believed links between betting skills and football expertise. Public health policies may have to consider the phenomenon in order to prevent problem gambling related to football betting.