GHENT, Belgium, Feb. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The home advantage in football has already received a lot of attention in the international sports economics literature. Researchers from Ghent University now contributed to this literature by investigating the extent to which this home advantage differs according to different forms of 'distance' between home and away teams in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League.
The researchers analysed all regular matches in the UEFA Champions League between 2008 and 2016 and in the UEFA Europa League between 2011 and 2016. The total number of matches analysed was 2012.
Within these matches, the home team won 47.1% of the matches compared to only 28.7% of the matches won by the away team (and 24.2% draws).
One distance is not the other
The study's main finding is that when a home team receives another team from a city much closer to sea level, the home advantage clearly increases. Every 100 meters of altitude difference is associated with an increase in expected probability to win the match, as the home team, by 1.1 percentage points.
"A possible explanation for this may be that the available oxygen decreases with increasing altitude. Home team players are likely to be more adapted to performing well in the condition of low oxygen levels."
Co-author Nils Van Damme
Other dimensions of distance (such as travel distance, climate differences, differences in economic prosperity and cultural differences) seem to play much less of a role. However, the home advantage is higher when more spectators are present and stronger teams (in terms of UEFA coefficient) have an even stronger home advantage than weaker ones.
Football market as a laboratory
The study is part of Professor Stijn Baert's broader research agenda, which partly contributes to an international scientific literature on the determinants of success in football. It should come as no surprise that economists are interested in this. Football is big business. Winning a match or not can mean a difference of many millions in the bank account of a football club.
"My main expertise is labour economics. The football market is the perfect laboratory to test certain dynamics in the labour market. Because there are a lot of data on this market and because productivity (scoring goals and winning matches) is observed more clearly than elsewhere. When a football player from Africa and Europe is equally productive, do they get the same salary? Do automatisms work or does more variety in one's tasks yield a higher productivity? These are questions that, at first sight, are only relevant within the football world, but answering them can lead to insights into discrimination and work organisation that are relevant for the entire labour market."
Professor Stijn Baert
All information about the data and results can be read in the peer-reviewed article indexed in Web of Science.
SOURCE Ghent University