World Cup Soccer Home Advantage

By Brown, Terry D., Jr.; Van Raalte, Judy L. et al. | Journal of Sport Behavior, June 2002 | Go to article overview

World Cup Soccer Home Advantage


Brown, Terry D., Jr., Van Raalte, Judy L., Brewer, Britton W., Winter, Christa R., Cornelius, Allen E., Andersen, Mark B., Journal of Sport Behavior


Home advantage (HA) in sport competition has been a well-documented phenomenon (Carron & Hausenblas, 1998). In an informal content analysis of media reports, Edwards and Archambault (1989) found that more references were made to the difficulty of defeating a team on their home ground than any other single factor, including talent, prior record, injuries, and momentum.

Koppet provided one of the first operational definitions of HA in 1972, "being at home increases your chance of winning" (p. 1C). Courneya and Carron (1992) refined the definition of HA with the following, "home teams in sport competitions win over 50% of the games played under a balanced home and away schedule" (p. 13). Researchers using this definition have found a HA in many different sports and at many levels of competition (Courneya & Carron, 1992). Because some teams (including World Cup soccer teams) do not play a balanced schedule, definitions of HA may have to be modified to include these teams. Also, other questions about the Courneya and Carron definition of HA have been raised (Bray, 1999).

Bray (1999) noted that the Courneya and Carron (1992) definition of HA was based on the home win percentages (HWP) of entire leagues over a number of years. Individual team data (overall and by year) were overlooked and no account for the away record was considered. To remedy these problems, Bray defined HA as when the HWP minus the away win percentage (AWP) is greater than 5%. By using this equation, the away record is taken into account, and individual team statistics can be calculated overall and by year.

Regardless of the definition of HA used, teams competing at home have an advantage over teams competing away from home (Bray, 1999; Courneya & Carron, 1992; Koppet, 1972). Several factors have been hypothesized to explain this HA effect, including familiarity with the playing facility (Moore & Brylinski, 1995), game importance (Baumeister, 1995), and travel fatigue (Pace & Carron, 1992).

The purpose of this research was to explore several factors related to HA with data collected from World Cup soccer teams. World Cup soccer teams are of particular interest because they have varied schedules, competing in their home countries, away, and in neutral countries. Comparisons can be made among these three settings. Second, World Cup teams play games that vary in importance from a non-championship game (friendly or qualifier) to a championship game (Continental championship or World Cup Championship). Relationships between game importance and HA can be explored. Finally, because World Cup soccer teams travel long distances, the effects of travel on HA can be examined.

Method

Database

The data for this study were obtained from the official Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Coca-Cola Rankings internet site (FIFA, 1999). The data included the results of 3,914 games played by 32 international soccer teams between January 1987 and the end of the 1998 World Cup in France (July 12, 1998). The 32 teams included were the teams that participated in the 1998 World Cup in France: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Paraguay, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Tunisia, USA, and Yugoslavia. The variables included in this study were: (a) outcome for each game (win, lose, draw), (b) location of the game (home, away, or on a neutral site), (c) the city in which the game occurred, (d) number of goals scored by and scored upon each team, (e) date of the game, and (f) type of game, as classified by FIFA.

Data Collection and Procedures

The data were printed from an internet archive site (FIFA, 1999) and entered into a database for all 32 teams for the years specified. …

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