IZA Discussion Paper No. 13578

Experimental Effects of an Absent Crowd on Performances and Refereeing Decisions during COVID-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has induced worldwide natural experiments on the effects of crowds. We exploit one of these experiments currently taking place over several countries in almost identical settings: professional football matches played behind closed doors. We find large and statistically significant effects on the number of yellow cards issued by referees. Without a crowd, fewer cards were awarded to the away teams, reducing home advantage. These results have implications for the influence of social pressure and crowds on the neutrality of refereeing decisions.

All publications