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Does Crowd Support Drive the Home Advantage in Professional Soccer? Evidence from German Ghost Games during the Covid-19 Pandemic

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  • Kai Fischer
  • Justus Haucap

Abstract

This paper examines the relation between crowd support and home advantage in professional football in making use of a unique “natural experiment” induced by restrictions due to the Corona pandemic: so-called ghost games in the top three German football divisions during the 2019/2020 season. We find that there is a reduced home advantage in the first division, whereas no change is observed in the second and third division. Our regression analysis indicates that the decrease in the home advantage and the heterogeneity across divisions are not sensitive to a variety of performance, location, and team covariates and best explained by the lower occupancy rate in the stadia. Hence, the decrease in occupancy to zero at the ghost games has been less dramatic for teams that have been used to low occupancy rates. The ghost game effect decreases over time, however, implying that players adapt and get used to the new situation. We cannot find strong evidence for a change in referee behavior or teams' tactics as main impact channels of occupancy rates on the home advantage. We rather assess psychological reasons to be of higher importance.

Suggested Citation

  • Kai Fischer & Justus Haucap, 2020. "Does Crowd Support Drive the Home Advantage in Professional Soccer? Evidence from German Ghost Games during the Covid-19 Pandemic," CESifo Working Paper Series 8549, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_8549
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Oberhofer, Harald & Philippovich, Tassilo & Winner, Hannes, 2010. "Distance matters in away games: Evidence from the German football league," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 200-211, April.
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    3. Thomas Peeters & Jan C. van Ours, 2020. "Seasonal Home Advantage in English Professional Football; 1973-2018," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-025/V, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. van Damme, Nils & Baert, Stijn, 2019. "Home advantage in European international soccer: Which dimension of distance matters?," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 13, pages 1-17.
    5. Alex Bryson & Peter Dolton & J James Reade & Dominik Schreyer & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Experimental effects of an absent crowd on performance and refereeing decisions during Covid-19," DoQSS Working Papers 20-04, Quantitative Social Science - UCL Social Research Institute, University College London.
    6. Seckin, Aylin & Pollard, Richard, 2007. "Home advantage in Turkish professional soccer," MPRA Paper 14323, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2008.
    7. J. James Reade & Dominik Schreyer & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Echoes: what happens when football is played behind closed doors?," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2020-14, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mauro Caselli & Paolo Falco, 2021. "When the Mob Goes Silent: Uncovering the Effects of Racial Harassment through a Natural Experiment," DEM Working Papers 2021/01, Department of Economics and Management.
    2. Colella, F. & Dalton, Patricio & Giusti, G., 2021. "All you Need is Love : The Effect of Moral Support on Performance (Revision of CentER DP 2018-026)," Discussion Paper 2021-005, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    3. J. James Reade & Dominik Schreyer & Carl Singleton, 2020. "Eliminating supportive crowds reduces referee bias," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2020-25, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
    4. Bryson, Alex & Dolton, Peter & Reade, J. James & Schreyer, Dominik & Singleton, Carl, 2020. "Experimental Effects of an Absent Crowd on Performances and Refereeing Decisions during COVID-19," IZA Discussion Papers 13578, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Bryson, Alex & Dolton, Peter & Reade, J. James & Schreyer, Dominik & Singleton, Carl, 2021. "Causal effects of an absent crowd on performances and refereeing decisions during Covid-19," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 198(C).
    6. Michał Krawczyk & Paweł Strawiński, 2020. "Home advantage revisited. Did COVID level the playing fields?," Working Papers 2020-36, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    7. Christian Deutscher & David Winkelmann & Marius Otting, 2020. "Bookmakers' mispricing of the disappeared home advantage in the German Bundesliga after the COVID-19 break," Papers 2008.05417, arXiv.org, revised Aug 2020.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    home advantage; Corona pandemic; professional soccer; stadium occupancy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • Z20 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics - - - General
    • Z21 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics - - - Industry Studies

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