Football teams playing during the pandemic still had 'home field advantage'


Football teams still had ‘home field advantage’ during the pandemic despite fans not being allowed in the stands, study finds

  • Researchers compared games played without fans due to Covid to other seasons
  • Found home team gets less favors from the referee but still has home advantage 
  • But the home advantage is less significant than when fans are in the stands  

Football teams that played games throughout the pandemic did get home-field advantage despite there being no fans allowed in stadiums, a study has found. 

But while a team’s home turf gave them an edge over the opposition, the benefit was less than in a pre-Covid world where spectators were allowed to watch. 

Researchers from Germany looked at more than 1,000 professional games that took place without fans and assessed how the pandemic altered the match.

They found home advantage persisted at the pro level despite fans being barred, but the beneficial relationship was also seen at the amateur level. 

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Football teams that played games throughout the pandemic did get home-field advantage despite there being no fans allowed in stadiums, a study has found. data was taken from ten top European leagues, including the English Championship

Football teams that played games throughout the pandemic did get home-field advantage despite there being no fans allowed in stadiums, a study has found. data was taken from ten top European leagues, including the English Championship 

Researchers analysed in-game stats to calculate the impact Covid restrictions had on home advantage, red and yellow cards, the number of shots per game and how games compared to the bookmakers’ predictions. 

Data came from ten top European leagues: England’s Championship and Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and La Liga 2, Italy’s Serie A and B, the German Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, and the top Portuguese and Turkish leagues.

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It found that when spectators were absent, the likelihood of a referee booking or sending off a home team player was dramatically higher than in Covid games.  

‘This is clear evidence that the referee bias completely disappears or is even slightly reversed in empty stadiums,’ the researchers write.  

The study also found that the style of play has changed as games have been played without spectators, with both home and away teams playing equally as attacking styles. 

Historically, away teams play a more defensive style of football, but this was not the case in the Covid-stricken season.   

While a team's home turf gave them an edge over the opposition, the benefit was less than in a pre-Covid world where spectators were allowed to watch

While a team’s home turf gave them an edge over the opposition, the benefit was less than in a pre-Covid world where spectators were allowed to watch

Goalkeepers are LESS likely to save a free kick if they have a ‘wall’ in front of them 

A goalkeeper is less likely to save a free kick if there is a wall of players in the way, according to new research. 

The ten-yard side-by-side barrier is in place to make it harder for the free kick taker to score a goal, but this technique has now been called into question. 

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast found the wall gets in the way of the goalkeeper’s eyesight and slows their reaction time. 

The goalkeeper’s sight is blocked for around 200 milliseconds and their reaction time is up to 90 milliseconds slower than when there is no wall. 

As a result the researchers calculate that with a wall in place the ‘keeper is 13 per cent less likely to make a successful save.  

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‘The study’s key finding indicates a clear home team advantage that persists even in matches played without the presence of their fans,’ the researchers write in their study, published today in PLOS ONE

It was confirmed by looking at betting odds that offer a direct gauge of how the market assesses home advantage in matches played with and without spectators.

Co-author Fabian Wunderlich, also from the German Sports University, said: ‘We know from numerous studies that the betting market rarely gets it wrong.

‘What’s more, betting odds have the advantage that, unlike real outcomes, they are less susceptible to random influences.’

Traditionally, in European football roughly half the matches end up as home wins, a quarter are draws and the rest are away wins. 

The reasons often cited for this are the direct influence fans have on refereeing decisions and the more offensive style of play of the home team, spurred on by fans. 

But a study of amateur games showed the phenomenon of home advantage also applies to leisurely football.  

Co- author Prof Matthias Weigelt, of Paderborn University in Germany, said: ‘We also looked at almost 6,000 games from the Kreisliga A (District Premier League) and saw home-field advantage applies not only to professionals but also to recreational kickers, even though they rarely, if ever, get to enjoy full stands and loud chanting fans.’

How to score the perfect penalty EVERY time, according to scientists

They think it’s all over, and it may well be now as scientists have found the best way for football players to train in order to take the perfect penalty.

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According to the latest findings, waiting until the goalkeeper starts to move and aiming into the opposite corner is a skill that can be improved with training.

While the tried-and-tested Alan Shearer technique of shooting the ball into the top corner might work for some, scientists claim strikers can train themselves to be better at outwitting the goalie.

Simple methods can be used to shorten a footballers’ decision-making process and allow them to focus more on shot accuracy, researchers say.

The University of Portsmouth delved into the mechanics of penalty taking ahead of of the kick-off of the Premier League, which will see previous champions Manchester United and Leicester City take to the turf at Old Trafford.

The latest research, which was led by Dr Martina Navarro, a lecturer in sport and exercise science, could lend a helping hand to penalty takers.

Dr Navarro said: ‘A successful penalty kick requires that the penalty taker produces an accurate, well-controlled kicking action and at the same time watches the goalkeeper and makes a decision to which side to kick the ball.

‘In other words, it is a defining feature of the goalkeeper-dependent strategy that a conscious decision is made while kicking.

‘This makes the goalkeeper-dependent strategy essentially a dual task.’





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