Eliminating Supportive Crowds Reduces Referee Bias

Accepted at Economic Inquiry (2021; In press)

49 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2020 Last revised: 7 Dec 2021

See all articles by James Reade

James Reade

University of Reading

Dominik Schreyer

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management

Carl Singleton

Department of Economics, University of Reading

Date Written: December 6, 2021

Abstract

We use a series of historical natural experiments in association football to test whether social pressure from a home stadium crowd affected behaviour and outcomes. The standout effect of an empty stadium was that referees cautioned visiting players less often, by over a third of a yellow card per match or once for every twenty-two fouls committed. Stadium crowds caused referees to favour the home team in their decision making. Empty stadiums appear to have reduced the overall home advantage in the final outcomes of football matches, but we cannot statistically reject no effect.

Keywords: Home Advantage, Referee Bias, Social Pressure, Attendance, Natural Experiments, Coronavirus

JEL Classification: C90, D91, L83, Z20

Suggested Citation

Reade, James and Schreyer, Dominik and Singleton, Carl, Eliminating Supportive Crowds Reduces Referee Bias (December 6, 2021). Accepted at Economic Inquiry (2021; In press), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3743972 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3743972

James Reade

University of Reading

Dominik Schreyer

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management ( email )

Burgplatz 2
Vallendar, 56179
Germany

Carl Singleton (Contact Author)

Department of Economics, University of Reading ( email )

Whiteknights
Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

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