Social Pressure in Football Matches: An Event Study of "Remote Matches" in Japan

Author Name ARAKI Shota (Fellow (Policy Economist), RIETI) / MORITA Hiroshi (Hosei University)
Creation Date/NO. December 2021 21-E-095
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We examine the effect of social pressure on the outcomes of football matches by assessing those matches that did not have spectators as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the results of 768 matches with 43 unattended matches in Japan's top two divisions for the 2020 season, we find significant evidence of referee bias due to social pressure by the home team's supporters. With spectators in the stadium, the number of fouls awarded to home teams decreases significantly by about 1.05. In addition, we find that the absolute number of spectators is more dominant as a cause of referee bias than the share of the home team's supporters in the stadium, by estimating a model that considers the restricted stadium capacity amid the pandemic.

Forthcoming: Morita, Hiroshi, Shota Araki. "Social pressure in football matches: An event study of ‘Remote Matches’ in Japan," Applied Economics Letters.