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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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  • Fischer, Kai
  • Haucap, Justus

Abstract

This paper examines the relation between crowd support and home advantage in professional soccer. For that purpose, we make use of a unique "natural experiment": so-called ghost games in the three top divisions of German professional soccer during the Corona pandemic. We find that there is a reduced home advantage in the first division, whereas no change can be observed in the second and third division. Our regression analysis indicates that the decrease in the home advantage and the different effects across the three divisions are not sensitive to a variety of performance, location, and team covariates and most suitably explained by the lower occupancy rate in the stadia. Hence, the decrease in the occupancy rates to zero at the ghost games has been less dramatic for teams that have been used to low occupancy rates. Put differently, the more a team has been used to a full stadium, the more severe is the loss of home advantage. The ghost game effect decreases over time, however, implying that players adapt and get used to the new situation. Our analysis also sheds light on potential drivers of home advantage such as stadium tracks, travel distance, derbies and within-week matches.

Suggested Citation

  • Fischer, Kai & Haucap, Justus, 2020. "Does crowd support drive the home advantage in professional soccer? Evidence from German ghost games during the COVID-19 pandemic," DICE Discussion Papers 344, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:dicedp:344
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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. Carl Singleton & J. James Reade & Johan Rewilak & Dominik Schreyer, 2021. "How big is home advantage at the Olympic Games?," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2021-13, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
    4. 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.
    5. Kai Fischer & Justus Haucap, 2020. "Betting Market Efficiency in the Presence of Unfamiliar Shocks: The Case of Ghost Games during the Covid-19 Pandemic," CESifo Working Paper Series 8526, CESifo.
    6. 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).
    7. Dilger, Alexander & Vischer, Lars, 2020. "No home bias in ghost games [Kein Heimspielvorteil bei Geisterspielen]," Discussion Papers of the Institute for Organisational Economics 7/2020, University of Münster, Institute for Organisational Economics.
    8. Dubois, Marc, 2022. "Dominance criteria on grids for measuring competitive balance in sports leagues," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 1-10.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Pascal Flurin Meier & Raphael Flepp & Egon Franck, 2021. "Are sports betting markets semistrong efficient? Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic," Working Papers 387, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    12. Strawiński Paweł & Krawczyk Michał, 2022. "Home Advantage Revisited: Did COVID Level the Playing Fields?," Central European Economic Journal, Sciendo, vol. 9(56), pages 56-67, January.
    13. 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.
    14. Dmitry Dagaev & Sofia Paklina & J. James Reade & Carl Singleton, 2021. "The Iron Curtain and Referee Bias in International Football," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2021-14, Department of Economics, University of Reading.

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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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