nep-spo New Economics Papers
on Sports and Economics
Issue of 2016‒02‒04
one paper chosen by
João Carlos Correia Leitão
Universidade da Beira Interior

  1. Hic Sunt Leones! The role of national identity on aggressiveness between national football teams By Raul Caruso; Marco Di Domizio; David A. Savage

  1. By: Raul Caruso (DISCE, Università Cattolica); Marco Di Domizio (Università di Teramo); David A. Savage (University of Newcastle)
    Abstract: This paper examines the role of national identity in explaining on field aggression during soccer competitions between national teams. In particular, this paper empirically investigates whether differences in macro identity markers such as: the economy, religion, education, governance and power between nation-states influence football players’ aggressiveness across a range of international FIFA competitions. We analyse the finals of the FIFA World, Confederations and Under 20’s World Cups as well as the Olympic tournaments from 1994 to 2012, resulting in 1088 individual matches. Our aggression focus is derived from both the (i) weighted measure of penalties (red and yellow cards) and; (ii) the count of sanctions (fouls) issued during a game as a proxy measure for on field aggression. We generate national identity factors from a set of macro level variables in order to estimate the size of national differences, from which we determine the impact that national identity has on the emergence of on field aggression between rival countries. Our results show that these national identity factors are significant predictors of aggression, while the match specific variables seem to be of less importance. Interestingly, our results also show that these aggression factors disappear once we include referee fixed effects, indicating that while national differences are played out on the football pitch the referees are effective at controlling the aggression.
    Keywords: Football (soccer) tournaments; penalties; international relations; FIFA competitions, national identity, religion, governance, power, corruption
    JEL: D71 D74 L83 F51
    Date: 2015–12

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