Football: without an audience, refereeing no longer favors the home team

Unless the Delta variant gets involved and causes new health constraints, fans will be able to take advantage of Messi’s arrival in the stands of the Parc des Princes in mid-September. Between cries, banners and songs, the support of the public plays a decisive role for the home team, which the most ardent supporters will not deny. But with the coronavirus epidemic, many meetings have taken place behind closed doors or with a very small audience.

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So lost the famous home advantage? Yes, on the arbitration side in any case, according to a study conducted by researchers from the department of neurosciences at the University of Salzburg, Austria, published this Thursday, August 19 in the journal Frontiers in Sports. Not that the players lack encouragement, but simply because the referees are more “neutral” when they are not under pressure from the stands.

No more yellow cards for home players

Nearly 1,300 matches from the top European leagues were studied, both in the 2018-2019 season with the public, and in the 2019-2020 season behind closed doors or with a small audience. During this last period, the referees distributed more yellow cards to the home teams than normal. The number of cards for the teams playing away did not change.

Our study is not a critique of arbitration, insisted on Michael Leitner, co-author of the study. Simply, the pressure exerted on the referees during matches is immense (…) And our decisions depend heavily on the environment, the situation and the people present. It should be noted that the number of yellow cards for unsportsmanlike behavior has on the other hand decreased with the absence of an audience, regardless of the team.

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These results are in line with those of a previous German study, published at the end of March in the journal Plos One. By focusing on professional but also amateur meetings, the researchers noticed that the difference in penalties between the home team and the visiting team disappears in the absence of an audience, ” which is in line with previous experiences showing that referees use the reactions of the stands to assess the severity of a fault “.



Football: does video refereeing respect the spirit of the game?

In 2017, football France discovered VAR, for Video Assistant Referee, video assistant referee in French. Already used by the cousin of rugby, this device is supposed to help referees make fewer errors, and thus less influence the final result of a match.

Concretely, UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, explains that “The stadium’s VAR team intervenes in the event of an obvious error in the following four very specific situations that could change the course of the match: a goal, an incident in the penalty area, a red card or an error in the identity of the players. players “. Since its appearance, however, the VAR has struggled to gain unanimity, praised on the one hand for sporting fairness but accused on the other of going against “the spirit of the game”.

Technology everywhere

Football, and therefore its refereeing, has never been frozen. Realize: at the origin, in the XIXe century, there were even two field referees, each of the two teams providing an official! In a constantly evolving sport, and in the digital and all-technological age, the implementation of VAR is not an anomaly in itself. “Technology is everywhere in football, nods Paul Dietschy, sports historian at the University of Franche-Comté. It is in the impeccable semi-synthetic turf, in the equipment of the players, supposed to improve their performances, until the electronic stopwatch, much more practical for the referees. “

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With the precision that is its own, video assistance leaves no room for interpretation or doubt to decide whether the ball has crossed the goal line or if a player is out of play, and allows for more equity. between the two teams. Proof by example: on March 27, at the last minute of the Portugal-Serbia meeting, in a qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup, Lusitano striker Cristiano Ronaldo saw his goal be refused, while the ball was fine. and well into the opposing goal.

Impossible to verify, however: for logistical reasons, the VAR and the goal line technology, which is used precisely in this case, are not used during the European qualifiers for the World Cup. Bad luck for the Portuguese, who had to content themselves with a draw… If the VAR was debated at that time, it was precisely because it was conspicuous by its absence.

“The spirit of the game”

With VAR, no more happy mistakes that have made the history of this sport, ” hand of God “ from Diego Maradona to that of Thierry Henry against Ireland in 2009. A very understandable development, given all the extra-sporting issues around a discipline which brews more and more money every year.

So, what’s wrong with video assistance? “To interrupt a match for five minutes and ultimately refuse a goal because of an offside little finger, plague Romain, Marseille supporter and football lover. The problem is not the video, it’s the use we make of it, it goes against the spirit of the game. “ From there to saying that you have to allow yourself a few largesse and voluntarily forget to whistle, there is only one step …

“This is the old dilemma of letter and spirit, explains Paul Dietschy. Should we apply the rule to the letter, however hard it may be, even for an offside of a few millimeters, or can we allow ourselves a margin of appreciation? “ More broadly, the question of video assistance is above all that of the human and interpretation part that we want to leave in the game.

The role of the arbitrator

The problem with VAR is also that of the referee’s disempowerment. What is it for, one wonders, if his assistant is blowing him into the headset what to whistle, or if he passes and repeats the same images in a loop before making a decision? These lengths in a match, which cut the pace and make players and supporters lose patience, also contribute in a way to removing magic from the sport. “Symbolically, football has often been a metaphor for life: sometimes we win, sometimes we lose and sometimes it’s thanks to a twist of fate, an injustice for some and luck for others”, abounds Paul Dietschy.

The difficulty is also this gray area, where everyone agrees to use the VAR, estimating “That you have to use it but not for hours” as Romain says. Where is the limit ? How long does it take for the referees to render their decision? These questions have no rational solution… and remain subject to the appreciation of the arbitrator who is, above all, a human being.

For this Euro delayed by one year due to the Covid, the VAR is present to support the referees. Let’s take advantage: “Perhaps in twenty years, artificial intelligence will have entirely replaced the man in black”, laughs Paul Dietschy. And then maybe we’ll look back with nostalgia back to when the whistle was still in the mouth of a flesh-and-blood referee.


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Foreign soldier Ha Tinh: ‘In my hometown, the referee is not like the V-League’

Midfielder Janclesio urged him to be fouled but the referee ignored it, leading to the situation where Van Quyet scored the only goal to help Hanoi beat Ha Tinh in the V-League on the evening of October 20.

Janclesio (wearing the captain’s armband) reacted to the referee after Ha Tinh had to admit a goal. Image: Lam Thoa.

“After the goal, Janclesio was very frustrated, I spoke many languages ​​that he did not understand,” coach Pham Minh Duc shared at the press conference after the 0-1 defeat at Hang Day Stadium. “Into the locker room in mid game, he claimed to have been pulled and fouled but the referee did not cut the whistle.”

In the 40th minute, Janclesio held the ball to rotate in the grip of Do Hung Dung. After being pulled by a Hanoi player and kicked his leg, Ha Tinh’s midfielder slowed down as if waiting for the referee to blow the opponent. But no whistle sounded. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Hung Dung passed down to Rimario. Nguyen Van Duc was able to stop the foreign soldiers of Hanoi, but very quickly, Van Quyet kicked the kick to score the only goal of the match.

Ha Tinh players, especially Janclesio, were very angry, rushing to react to the referee. However, all decisions are upheld. “At that time I was very afraid that Janclesio would have to receive a yellow card because of the reaction, and was suspended. He needs to be present in the next match”, coach Pham Minh Duc said. “In the dressing room I said that in Vietnam, once the referee has made a decision, I have to accept it. Janclesia said that in his hometown, the referee didn’t arrest like that, so I had to say ‘Here, Vietnam is like that.’ “I also told Janclesio that he was the first person to make the first mistake. If he kicked the goalkeeper early, Hung Dung, Van Quyet or Rimario would not have a chance to steal the ball. explain, like giving him a cold beer, to stay awake, calm and kick well in the second half. “

Van Quyet scored

Having to play on the defending championship team’s field, Ha Tinh took a deep step back in the formation, kicked the defense of the crowd and initially succeeded when making Hanoi difficult to get the ball. After having to concede a goal, they pushed up the squad, kicking the attack. From holding the ball 35% in the first half, Ha Tinh raised to 48% and launched three shots to hit the target. “This match, the Ha Tinh players played well, the draw was more reasonable. People can see that in the second half we played a good double with Hanoi. Few teams, not even any team. put Hanoi in a stressful position like we do today. It’s just regret that there is no equalizer, “coach Pham Minh Duc regrets.

According to the schedule, Ha Tinh will return to the home field to welcome Viettel in round 4. However, this place is storming and flooding, the match is unlikely to take place. Coach Pham Minh Duc said he and his students were waiting for the Organizing Committee to decide a new match score. “We are ready to play anywhere so that the V-League can finish on schedule,” he said.

Lam Thoa