Friday, January 12, 2007

Home team bias in soccer

Interesting paper, Are football referees really biased and inconsistent? Evidence from the English Premier League, via Overcoming Bias;
“This paper presents a statistical analysis of patterns in the incidence of disciplinary sanction (yellow and red cards) taken against players in the English Premier League over the period 1996-2003, using bivariate negative binomial and bivariate Poisson regressions. Several questions concerning sources of inconsistency and bias in refereeing standards are examined. Evidence is found to support a time consistency hypothesis, that the average incidence of disciplinary sanction is predominantly stable over time. However, a refereeing consistency hypothesis, that the incidence of disciplinary sanction does not vary between referees, is rejected. The tendency for away teams to incur more disciplinary points than home teams cannot be attributed to the home advantage effect on match results, and appears to be due to a refereeing bias favouring the home team.”

Excerpt from the conclusion;
The empirical analysis suggests that the tendency for away teams to incur more disciplinary points than home teams cannot be explained solely by the home advantage effect on match results. Even after controlling for team quality, a (relatively strong) away team can expect to collect more disciplinary points than a (relatively weak) home team with the same win probability. Therefore the statistical evidence seems to point in the direction of a home team bias in the incidence of disciplinary sanction. This interpretation is consistent with evidence of home team bias in several other recent studies, which find that the home team is favoured in the calling of fouls, or in the addition of stoppage time at the end of matches. Finally, evidence is found of variation between referees in the degree of home team bias; and this variation contributes to the overall pattern of refereeing inconsistency. These findings suggest that while all referees should be counselled and encouraged to avoid (presumably unintentional) home team bias in their decision-making, the extent to which corrective action is required is also likely to vary between officials.

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