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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Crowd support matters more when playing at home in football matches.

The tendency of the home team to win more often than the visiting team is termed home advantage. It is widely believed that home advantage is a significant factor in football matches, but the factors at play are not yet conclusive. Three factors, though, have been well acknowledged: a sizable crowd support for the home team, familiarity of the home team to the stadium environment and thirdly, travel fatigue and disruptions in travel arrangements of the visiting team.

Better adjustment to the turf and lower levels of stress are some of the reasons Niels van de Ven suggests gives home teams better advantage than the visiting team. Jet lag and traveling long distances are also significant. In a recent discussion paper, Michela Ponzo and Vincenzo Scoppa believe that crowd support matters more, providing about 60 percentage points while the other two factors contribute 40 percentage points to home advantage.

Ponzo and Scoppa evaluated data from the Italian “Serie A” both for same-stadium derbies and normal matches. You should recall that same-stadium derbies are matches that involve teams that share the same stadium. A good example is Milan and Inter Milan in the “Serie A”. Using data from same-stadium derbies would make travel fatigue and familiarity with the stadium environment neutral factors.

They discovered that home advantage contributes significantly to team performance. Playing at home both for same-stadium derbies and normal matches increases a team’s probability of winning by 23 percentage points (23%). The points earned in the league by the two teams before the match along with their ranking in the league table are also contributory. Taking into consideration points earned by the two teams, the probability of the home team’s winning was found to be twenty-six percentage points (26%) higher than when playing at away.

Also, playing at home and enjoying crowd support tends to make the home team score more goals. This result could probably be traced to either the fact that the players are more encouraged when playing before their home crowd or the crowd support at home tends to influence the referees’ decisions.

Home teams seem to be receiving more favorable treatment in referees’ decisions. Granted, referees try their best to be impartial, but they can be subconsciously influenced by a large crowd in the stadium and they might then react by favoring the home team, thereby awarding more penalties and less disciplinary sanctions to the home team. It was found that referees tend to give more red cards to visiting teams.

When they tried to neutralize the subjective influence of the referees’ decisions on the home team, it could be observed that home crowd support plays a large role in encouraging and motivating the players.

So, when next your favorite team is playing at the local stadium, your support could contribute about 60 percentage points (60%) to its securing a win.