The Iron Curtain and Referee Bias in International Football

28 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2021

See all articles by Dmitry Dagaev

Dmitry Dagaev

National Research University Higher School of Economics

Sofia N. Paklina

National Research University Higher School of Economics

James Reade

University of Reading

Carl Singleton

Department of Economics, University of Reading

Date Written: October 31, 2021

Abstract

Using the assignment of referees to European international association football matches played between 2002 and 2016, we ask whether judgements were biased according to the legacy of the Cold War. Referees from post-communist states favoured teams from non-communist states, but there was no evidence of favouritism in the other direction. This out-group bias of referees born behind the Iron Curtain was more significant for less important decisions (e.g., yellow cards vs red cards). The bias was particularly large among referees from the former Soviet Union. It has also diminished over time, perhaps due to increased professionalism in European refereeing, or because memories of the Cold War era have diminished among active referees.

Keywords: home advantage, social pressure, international relations, sports economics

JEL Classification: D91, F59, Z20

Suggested Citation

Dagaev, Dmitry and Paklina, Sofia N. and Reade, James and Singleton, Carl, The Iron Curtain and Referee Bias in International Football (October 31, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3953971 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3953971

Dmitry Dagaev (Contact Author)

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

Sofia N. Paklina

National Research University Higher School of Economics ( email )

Myasnitskaya street, 20
Moscow, Moscow 119017
Russia

James Reade

University of Reading

Carl Singleton

Department of Economics, University of Reading ( email )

Whiteknights
Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

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