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Proven: Empty Stadiums Affect the Local Team in Soccer

A study from the University of Leeds found that the lack of spectators affects the performance of local teams in soccer.

Group of soccer players in an empty stadium

The absence of fans in stadiums has a demonstrable effect on the results of local soccer teams. Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post| Juan Manuel Londoño

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Leer en español: Comprobado: los estadios vacíos si afectan a los locales en el fútbol

The absence of fans in stadiums has a demonstrable effect on the results of local soccer teams. It is something that any soccer fan had suspected for some time, but today we already have a scientific study that proves it.

The University of Leeds study entitled: “Football without the fans: Effect of empty stadiums during a pandemic” used data from 4,844 matches in 11 countries, including the Premier League and the championship in England, Bundesliga 1 and 2 in Germany, the Spanish League 1 and 2, Italian Serie A and B, Portuguese Primeira Liga, Greek Super League, Turkish Super League, Austrian Bundesliga and Danish Super League, Russian Premier League, and Swiss Super League.

The study found, among other things, that local teams scored far fewer points and goals when there were no crowds.

More specifically, the researchers found that:

With the fans present, the teams gained 0.39 more points per home game than away.
With the fans absent, the lead was cut almost in half. Teams won just 0.22 more points at home than away
With the fans present, the home teams scored 0.29 more goals per game than the visiting teams.
With the fans absent, the home teams scored just 0.15 more goals than the visitors.

It also affects the referees

The other side of the coin is the effect that the lack of crowds has on arbitration. It is no secret to anyone that the referees face constant pressure from the fans, especially the locals. The study found that the lack of fans caused the referees to call a greater number of fouls against local teams. They also handed out fewer yellow cards to the visiting team.

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The effect on dominance

The study also determined how the presence of the public affects the dominance that teams have over the game. They realized that the dominance of the premises is greatly affected. Without their fans, the locals have 1.3 fewer shot attempts per game and 0.4 fewer shots on goal per game.

On the other hand, the absence of fans did not affect the visiting teams, which had a similar level of dominance.

An unfair advantage?

This study shows that however fair soccer may seem, there will always be invisible advantages that are beyond the control of both fans and players. However, this is not to say that it is an unfair advantage. Since the 19th century, it has been known that white pieces win more than black at the highest level of chess, but the most talented player will always prevail.

In the same way, an intelligent technical director and a capable team will be able to win whether they are home or away.