What did I tell you? The floodgates are opening to football (or soccer) related press releases with a scientific twist. The other day it was the Institute of Physics playing keepy-uppy with the physics of football, today it’s the turn of London’s Science Museum (sorry that should be science museum, per their logo.
According to their news release, new data released today [Into the wild, is that?], proves something that all football fans already know – the mood of the crowd can alter the referee’s decision.
Former international referee, David Elleray, will attempt to send off this idea at a debate on the science and psychology of football at the Dana Centre in London. 98% of fans questioned think that referees are influenced by crowds. The national survey of 2,517 football fans was conducted by The Football Fans Census on behalf of the Dana Centre. The results tally closely with research conducted by Alan Nevill of the University of Wolverhampton, whose studies of football crowds and referees show that home advantage is huge and that referees are affected by their environment.
The research could have enormous implications for a possible Germany v England clash in this year’s World Cup, says the press release in a serious attempt to get onside with the tabloid press…
Nevill’s study showed that crowd noise influenced referees’ decisions to favour the home team. It was suggested that whenever a home player commits a foul, the crowd’s reaction is capable of activating the “potent stressor” that might increase the level of uncertainty or indecision of the referees. The research indicated that the home team was penalised approximately 16% less than when compared with no noise condition.