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Eliminating supportive crowds reduces referee bias

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  • J. James Reade
  • Dominik Schreyer
  • Carl Singleton

Abstract

We use a series of historical natural experiments in association football to test whether social pressure from a home stadium crowd affected behavior 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 22 fouls committed. Stadium crowds caused referees to favor 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.

Suggested Citation

  • J. James Reade & Dominik Schreyer & Carl Singleton, 2022. "Eliminating supportive crowds reduces referee bias," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 60(3), pages 1416-1436, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:60:y:2022:i:3:p:1416-1436
    DOI: 10.1111/ecin.13063
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    6. Brad R. Humphreys & Alexander Marsella & Levi Perez, 2022. "The effect of monitoring and crowds on crime and law enforcement: A natural experiment from European football," Working Papers 22-08, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
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    8. Beiderbeck, Daniel & Frevel, Nicolas & von der Gracht, Heiko A. & Schmidt, Sascha L. & Schweitzer, Vera M., 2021. "The impact of COVID-19 on the European football ecosystem – A Delphi-based scenario analysis," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 165(C).
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    13. Justin Ehrlich & Joel Potter, 2023. "Estimating the effect of attendance on home advantage in the National Basketball Association," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(11), pages 1471-1482, June.
    14. Luca De Angelis & J. James Reade, 2022. "Home advantage and mispricing in indoor sports’ ghost games: the case of European basketball," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2022-01, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
    15. Chowdhury, Subhasish M & Jewell, Sarah & Singleton, Carl, 2024. "Can Awareness Reduce (and Reverse) Identity-Driven Bias in Judgement? Evidence from International Cricket," IZA Discussion Papers 16963, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Fabio Richlan & J. Lukas Thürmer & Jeremias Braid & Patrick Kastner & Michael Christian Leitner, 2023. "Subjective experience, self-efficacy, and motivation of professional football referees during the COVID-19 pandemic," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 10(1), pages 1-15, December.
    17. Stuart Baumann & Carl Singleton, 2024. "They were robbed! Scoring by the middlemost to attenuate biased judging in boxing," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2024-01, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
    18. Kai Fischer & Justus Haucap, 2022. "Home advantage in professional soccer and betting market efficiency: The role of spectator crowds," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 75(2), pages 294-316, May.
    19. Yung-Chin Chiu & Chen-Kang Chang, 2022. "Major League Baseball during the COVID-19 pandemic: does a lack of spectators affect home advantage?," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 9(1), pages 1-6, December.
    20. Alex Farnell, 2023. "False Start? An Analysis of NFL Penalties With and Without Crowds," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 24(6), pages 695-716, August.
    21. Kai Fischer & Justus Haucap, 2021. "Does Crowd Support Drive the Home Advantage in Professional Football? Evidence from German Ghost Games during the COVID-19 Pandemic," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 22(8), pages 982-1008, December.
    22. Federico Fioravanti & Fernando Delbianco & Fernando Tohm'e, 2023. "Visitors Out! The Absence of Away Team Supporters as a Source of Home Advantage in Football," Papers 2308.06279, arXiv.org, revised Nov 2023.
    23. Carl Singleton & Alex Bryson & Peter Dolton & James Reade & Dominik Schreyer, 2022. "Economics lessons from sports during the COVID-19 pandemic," Chapters, in: Paul M. Pedersen (ed.), Research Handbook on Sport and COVID-19, chapter 2, pages 9-18, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    24. Michael Christian Leitner & Frank Daumann & Florian Follert & Fabio Richlan, 2023. "The cauldron has cooled down: a systematic literature review on home advantage in football during the COVID-19 pandemic from a socio-economic and psychological perspective," Management Review Quarterly, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 605-633, June.
    25. Luca De Angelis & J. James Reade, 2023. "Home advantage and mispricing in indoor sports’ ghost games: the case of European basketball," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 325(1), pages 391-418, June.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • Z20 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics - - - General

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