Leagues, tournaments, and competitions
Professional football competitions are a major economic activity but still is a sporting activity. In this sense, all interested parties should cooperate and pursue fairness in the competition. Over the last 15 years or so, researchers and league organisers have been working on the scheduling optimisation. In fact, some programming-based methods have been implemented to find optimal solutions of fairness for all competitors in sports leagues. This chapter provides an overview of professional football leagues and how they are often designed worldwide. Initially, the chapter exposes that professional football is predominantly ordered along geographical lines, with international-level and domestic markets. It then goes on to describe the most common designs of competition such as round robin and knockout. Next, three of the most typical constraints on professional football are explained: breaks, travel distance, and carry-over effects. Then, the scheduling optimisation is explained and two real cases are used as examples: the Brazilian League and South American World Cup qualifiers. Finally, some changes that professional football leagues implement are presented and concluding thoughts are given.