Moh 1

Hensley Moh
English 110
Marion Bruner
Research Paper
ReIerees Decisions in Soccer Games
AIter doing some research and interviewing diIIerent sources, I analyzed the issues Iaced by
soccer players and teams due to Iavoritism. There are many types oI ways in which
Iavoritism is shown particularly in the role oI reIerees. ReIerees are the ones who predict
the way the match starts and ends, sometimes known as 'the TwelIth Man¨. Their
decisions are always Iinal, meaning when they make a decision it can no longer be
changed even iI they are wrong. AIter going through some insider reviews oI the
biasness oI reIerees, there are many reasons that cause them to make some decisions in
Iavor oI one team and to the detriment oI the opponent team. There have been situations
where teams were suspected oI having some connections with reIerees in order to get
Iavorable decisions.
There have been a lot oI debates in reIereeing decisions regarding injury time to be
added at the end oI a match. In principle, this time should be given to compensate Ior
time lost Ior player injuries, player substitutions, yellow and red cards, protests and other
wastes oI time (FIFA, The OIIicial Laws oI the Game). The existence oI a problem with the
injury time decision is conIirmed by the ruling by FIFA which, in 1998, in order to limit
reIerees` discretion, established that reIerees have to announce publicly at the end oI
normal time the minutes oI extra time to be played( Scoppa, Vincenzo, Aug 2008).
There have been several occasions where complaints have been made regarding reIerees
decisions between home and visiting teams or between 'big¨ and 'small¨ teams.
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Moh 2
There is no doubt that Iavoritism towards a home team is certainly due to social
pressure Irom the crowd in a stadium noisily supporting the home team. ReIerees are
human beings who as shown by a series oI psychological studies can be subconsciously
inIluenced by the noise oI a large crowd in the stadium who react to strange decisions
by yelling and protesting(( Scoppa, Vincenzo, Aug 2008). ReIerees have been accused oI
Iavoring 'big¨ teams who have economic and media power oII the Iield. Just like in
May 2006 when top teams in Serie A like Milan, Lazio, Reggina were accused oI trying
to appoint Iavorable reIerees Ior their matches and put pressure on them during their
Soccer experts make more Ioul calls when action moved right-to-leIt, or leItward,
compared to leIt-to-right or rightward action, in the sense that two reIerees watching the
same play Irom diIIerent angles or points may be inclined to make diIIerent calls. In the
Penn study oI twelve members oI the University oI Pennsylvania`s varsity soccer teams,
researchers Iound that participants viewing the soccer plays were more likely to call a
Ioul when seeing a right-to-leIt attack. ThereIore, iI the spatial biases observed in this
group oI soccer players who had diIIerent views have similar eIIects on reIerees in real
matches, they may inIluence particular oIIicials diIIerently: reIerees on the Iield will more
Irequently be in positions that lower their threshold Ior calling Iouls during an attack,
compared to assistant reIerees working the line (Kim Guenther, July 2010). Lines men and
reIerees usually have diIIerent views oI leIt-to-right or right-to-leIt attacking plays. This
may be unIair towards one team that goes into halI time with a lead and the reIerees
switch to a right diagonal system in the second halI, Iavoring both deIences. ReIerees
viewing leItward action may be more likely to see a Ioul when no Ioul was actually
committed. An example was seen in the match between the U.S and Slovenia at the World
Cup oI 2010, where the reIeree denied what could have been the U.S team`s third goal
against Slovenia. These kinds oI decisions can cause a match to take a diIIerent

Moh 3
The Iact is that it is typically impossible to access whether the decisions in uestion are
just or unjust. Yet, proIessional soccer games have the advantage that there is a decision
that reIerees take that is suitable Ior better testing oI Iavoritism which is the amount oI
injury time that they add at the end oI each game. Generally, on average, reIerees add 3
minutes to the end oI a game. AIter some investigations and experiments, it was predicted
that when visitors score, the injury time is 15° longer than when a home team scores
(Garicano, Ignacio, Canice, May, 2005). This means reIerees are more speedy in blowing
the whistle Ior the end oI a game iI the home team scores thus giving the visitors less
time to react or respond, than iI the visitors score and vice versa.
ReIerees can be biased on responding to goals in extra time depending on who scores.
For example, iI the home team scores, a reIeree will be more likely to signal an end to
the game, whereas iI the away team scores the reIeree will more likely extend the game
providing some hope Ior the home team to respond. All this is usually due to the
pressure reIerees get Irom the crowds especially when the crowds are to closed to the
stadium. Another cause oI the response oI reIerees towards teams is also when getting to
the end oI a tournament. For example, iI a team needs a point or goal to qualiIy to the
next level or win a competition and the other team has no hopes oI moving to the next
level because oI the number oI points they have, reIerees in some cases end up Iavoring
the team that needs a point or goal to advance to the next level.
ReIerees sometimes make wrong decisions when it comes to contacts between players.
Some reIerees are inIluenced by the display oI the players most especially during
physical contacts claiming to be pushed or even injured. ReIerees then give yellow and
red cards to innocent players changing the atmosphere oI the game totally. This problem
has caused so much conIlicts between teams recently because oI the kinds oI Iake claims
displayed by soccer players in the sense oI being pushed, kicked or over-pressurized.
ReIerees still make wrong decisions with oIIsides. A reIeree blows the whistle Ior
oIIside when the ball is passed to a player who is behind the opponent`s last deIender.
ReIerees are known Ior making errors in deciding iI there was an oIIside or not even
aIter the
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Moh 4
implementation oI additional soccer assistant reIerees. Some oI the Iactors listed above
may be the cause oI bad decisions taken by the reIerees.
Decisions based on individual perceptions are uncertain because they rely on sensory
evidence that is corrupted by noise. In order to improve the Iinal decisions, soccer
assistant reIerees have to be able to communicate with the main reIeree Ior better
results. Joint decisions are usually better than individual decisions, but according to some
scientists, perIormance on joint decisions are not always better( Bahrami et al, 2010).
It is true that decisions can not always be correct, but I think they can be improved. An
extra reIeree should be added at the back oI each pole Ior better decisions when it comes
to oIIsides especially. Some leagues already do this, but I suggest it should be made
everywhere too. To reduce the pressure Iaced by reIerees by noisy crowds, seats Ior
spectators should be placed some distance away Irom the main Iield. This can partially
stop the social pressure which usually leads to Iavoritism and bad decisions. ReIerees in
the U.S are now given a little more intense training to avoid some oI such situations
which is working pretty well when you try to compare the mistakes made by reIerees
Irom other countries.

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ReIerences List
- Favoritism under Social Pressure .Luis Garicano, Ignacio Palacios-Huerta and Canice
Prendergast.The Review oI Economics and Statistics , Vol. 87, No. 2 (May, 2005), pp. 208-
216.Published by: The MIT Press.Article Stable URL:
- Scoppa, Vincenzo An econometric analysis oI soccer reIeree decisions.Empirical Economics;
Aug2008, Vol. 35
- Kim Guenther, University oI Pennsylvania School oI Medicine. Fouls Go LeIt.
- B. Bahrami 09,.. Science 329, 1081 (2010). Abstract/FREE Full Text

-FIFA, Federation Internationale de Football Association. The OIIicial laws oI the Game (
Chicago; Triumph Books 2000).
Skills; Feb2011, Vol. 112 Issue 1, p161-171, 11p, 1 Chart Available From Academic Search
Premier Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 10, 2011.

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