Researchers assessed the influence of the crowd on the decisions of football referees

(ORDO NEWS) — “Judge for soap!” the excited fans shout, sometimes not even suspecting the pressure exerted on supposedly impartial referees.

And when the pandemic drove football fans home, there was a surprising increase in the number of red and yellow cards issued to the home team during home matches.

It is well known that during home games – those that the team plays in their city and on their football field – football players usually perform better than during away games.

To a certain extent, this is due to the familiar environment and the lack of need to fly or go anywhere, but now researchers have discovered another possible reason: the abundance of “their” fans.

Unless the most devoted fans decide to follow their team to another city or country, and for most of them, home matches are the only opportunity to cheer on the players.

In addition to moral support, the chanting crowd in the stands can also influence the decisions of the referees, especially when it comes to issuing yellow and red cards.

To prove this, British researchers counted the number of penalty cards issued to teams during away and home matches from 2010 to 2021.

They were especially interested in the 2020/21 season, when, due to restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, fans could not attend team matches.

It turned out that in all four of the top professional leagues in England during 2010-2019, referees issued more yellow and red cards to visiting teams during home matches, and in the 2020/21 season, the number of penalty cards from guests and hosts was about the same.

This tendency varied among judges, and the authors suggest that experience and special training reduce the referee’s susceptibility to crowd action.

The authors emphasize that for fair and impartial officiating football referees may require additional training, as well as psychological support and additional ways to track violations.


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