Causal effects of an absent crowd on performances and refereeing decisions during Covid-19

Pub. Date
11 December, 2020
Pub. Type

The Covid-19 pandemic has induced worldwide natural experiments on the effects of crowds.  We exploit one of these experiments that took place over several countries in almost identical settings: professional football matches played behind closed doors within the 2019/20 league seasons.  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 decisions.