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Gambling with leadership succession in Brazilian football: head coach turnovers and team performance

Matheus Galdino (German Sport University Cologne, Cologne, Germany)
Pamela Wicker (Department of Sports Science, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany)
Brian P. Soebbing (Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 18 December 2020

Issue publication date: 21 May 2021




Although leadership succession is a popular area of study across different professional sports leagues, existing research has largely ignored South America despite Brazilian football seeming to surpass the limits of coaching turnovers in comparison to any other league worldwide.


This study examines the causes and consequences of 594 head coach turnovers in the Brasileirão from 2003 to 2018. A comprehensive longitudinal dataset was compiled (n = 13,012) and a series of regression analysis evaluated the determinants of coaching replacements as well as their effect on team performance.


Statistical results revealed that coaching survival is significantly determined by a negative spell of three to four games, parallel competitions and performance expectations with three games in advance. Regarding performance outcomes, it takes seven games for a slight sign of improvement to be identified after a coach turnover, but no clear positive effects are recognized as an aftermath, supporting the ritual scapegoating theory.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that decision makers should consider the importance of a rational evaluation and the crucial component of time instead of judging coaches based on subjectivity and immediate results. Meanwhile, coaches should avoid voluntary turnovers, exercising priorities ahead of continental cups and sequences with few points accumulated.


This investigation discloses a valuable reference for coaches, sport managers and academic scholars interested in Brazilian football, as it extends knowledge development and theoretical understanding for a region that still lacks scientific evidence to back up its practical assumptions in sports.



Funding statement: This research has received no funding.Disclosure of interest: The authors report no conflict of interest.


Galdino, M., Wicker, P. and Soebbing, B.P. (2021), "Gambling with leadership succession in Brazilian football: head coach turnovers and team performance", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 245-264.



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