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The Referee's A What?

PROOF AT LAST! New research shows football fans agree with scientists – crowds really do influence refs.

New data released today, reveals that almost every football fan believes referees’ decisions are influenced by crowds, supporting scientific research by a leading academic, which will be discussed at the Science Museum’s Dana Centre.

But former international referee, David Elleray, will give this research the red card at a debate on the science and psychology of football at the Dana Centre in London - the Science Museum’s adults-only bar and café for discussing contemporary science issues.

98% of fans questioned think that referees are influenced by crowds. The national survey of 2,517 football fans was conducted by The Football Fans Census on behalf of the Dana Centre for the event on the science of football on Thursday 25 May.

The survey tallies closely with research conducted by Professor Alan Nevill, University of Wolverhampton, whose studies of football crowds and referees show that home advantage is huge and that referees are affected by their environment.

This research could have massive implications for a possible Germany v England game in this year’s World Cup.

Nevill’s study showed that crowd noise influenced referees’ decisions to favour the home team. It was suggested that whenever a home player commits a foul, the crowd’s reaction is capable of activating the “potent stressor” that might increase the level of uncertainty or indecision of the referees. The research indicated that the home team was penalised approximately 16% less than when compared with no noise condition.

However, the fans and Professor Nevill’s opinion is hotly contested by David Elleray, former international football referee, who rejects the notion that crowds play a part in referees’ decisions.

Elleray will argue that referees ignore external influences on their decision-making in the debate at the Dana Centre.

The survey of football fans also reveals:

53% of fans believe that bias is not a problem

69% of fans believe the crowd at their club has some influence over referees’ decisions
Newcastle fans believe they exert the most influence over referees, followed by Arsenal fans, then Leeds fans.

Fans believe that big clubs get the most favourable refereeing decisions because of their crowds – with Manchester United being perceived by the majority of fans to be the most favoured club.

Top 5 - Which club, if any at all, do you think gets the most favourable refereeing decisions because of their crowd?

Manchester United 59%
Chelsea 15%
Liverpool 9%
Arsenal 7%
Newcastle 1%

Football Fever at the Dana Centre is a one-off free evening looking at the science and psychology of football in the run up to the World Cup, on Thursday 25 May. Visitors will also get the chance to test the latest technology to see if their kicking ability is up there with the best and discuss the importance of nutrition in performance. The event is free, but visitors need to pre-book. Visit www.danacentre.org.uk for more details.

Kat Nilsson, Events Manager at the Dana Centre and Science Museum said: “The forthcoming event at the Dana Centre will move beyond hype and look at the hard science and psychology behind the game. David Elleray has been at the sharp end of the beautiful game and visitors will get a unique insight into the world of the referee.”




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The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday May 25 2006

Time: 10:33AM

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