Home > Uncategorized > An Oldie But Goodie: Referee Favoritism to Home Teams

An Oldie But Goodie: Referee Favoritism to Home Teams

With Brazil playing South Africa for the right to play the U.S. in the Confederations Cup Final, I thought I’d resurrect this paper I read a couple years ago.

Back in 2005, the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn released a discussion paper entitled “Social Pressure Influences Decisions of Individuals: Evidence from the Behavior of Football Referees.”  that paper, written by Thomas J. Dohmen, looked at 12 years of data from the Bundesliga and concluded that, generally speaking, referees tended to favor the home team on fouls, penalty kicks, goals, and the amount of stoppage time awarded.  And the degree and direction of favoritism were affected by the composition of the crowd and its proximity to the field (particularly whether there was a track between the fans and the field).

While none of the paper’s revelations were particularly shocking, it is interesting to see them documented.  And it is interesting to note that the effects of favoritism vary between leagues:  as much as two minutes of extra stoppage time was awarded to La Liga home teams losing their matches, whereas only roughly 20 seconds of extra time was given to the Bundesliga home teams analyzed by the article.

It is worth a read, if only so you will be able to add force to your complaint when your team watches an away victory slip away in stoppage time.  The 44-page pdf is here.

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