Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football
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Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football

Edited by John Goddard and Peter Sloane

In this comprehensive Handbook, John Goddard and Peter Sloane present a collection of analytical contributions by internationally regarded scholars in the field, which extensively examine the many economic challenges facing the world's most popular team sport.
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Chapter 24: Refereeing and infringement of the rules

Peter Dawson


It is without doubt that player indiscretions – both verbal and physical – and the resulting sanctions imposed by match officials (referees) are an integral part of professional team sports that have become an increasingly popular area of academic endeavour. This is particularly the case in professional football (soccer) where a growing literature has investigated the on-field performance of agents. It is well documented that football, and sport more generally, has a particular advantage over other industries in that these agents are easy to identify and data on their performance are more readily available. Furthermore, the ability to undertake field experiments and, specifically, natural experiments has provided opportunities to make useful contributions to the area of behavioural economics. This chapter presents an introduction to understanding judgement and decision-making. The specific objective is to review a growing number of papers that document aspects of player and referee behaviour in football. Much of this literature from the economics discipline is relatively recent. Evidence will on occasion, and where relevant, be drawn from other sports. In addition, statistical analysis on rule infringements using data from international tournaments and leading European leagues is also provided. The structure of the chapter is as follows. The first section deals with player transgressions. Here a brief history of physical violence and aggression in football, the development of rules and regulations and the role of the referee, is provided.

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