David Luiz, Anthony Taylor.
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  • Soccer referees are stricter without fans in the stadiums to jeer or cheer their decisions, data suggests.
  • As reported by The New York Times, analytics firm Gracenote examined 83 German Bundesliga matches that have been played behind closed doors since the league's resumption in May.
  • It found home teams were penalized more for fouls and handed more yellow cards in empty stadiums than they usually were with fans present.
  • Simon Gleave, Gracenote's head of sports analysis, says the lack of crowds has removed the likelihood of "refereeing decisions being subconsciously in favor of the home team."
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Soccer referees are stricter without fans in the stadiums to jeer or cheer their decisions, data suggests.

As reported by The New York Times, analytics firm Gracenote examined 83 German Bundesliga matches that have been played behind closed doors since the league's resumption in May.

It found that home teams were penalised more for fouls in empty stadiums than they usually were with fans present, while they have also been awarded an increased number of yellow cards.

Simon Gleave, Gracenote's head of sports analysis, told The New York Times that historical data has long suggested that "all or part of home advantage" is courtesy of "refereeing decisions being subconsciously in favor of the home team."

Gleave added that the "increase in yellow cards and fouls by the home team" during Bundesliga games held in empty stadiums "appears to confirm the hypothesis."

Data from Gracenote also suggests home teams' general performances have severely dropped in the absence of fans.

Not only have home sides in the Bundesliga won 10% less games than they had pre-lockdown, they've also scored fewer goals, taken fewer shots, and attempted fewer crosses and dribbles.

Lukas Keppler, head of a separate analytics firm, Impect, told The New York Times empty stadiums have actually resulted in "negative home advantage."

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