People, who if I was writing for a tabloid newspaper I would be obliged to describe as ‘boffins’, have discovered that referees are heightist and frequently unfairly punish taller players.
Researchers at Rotterdam School of Management found that in clashes in which it was not clear which player had committed the foul, referees were far more likely to penalise the taller player.
The scientists analysed all fouls recorded in seven seasons of the UEFA Champions League (32,142 fouls) and German Bundesliga (85,262 fouls), the last three World Cups (6,440 fouls) as well as data from two perceptual experiments with football fans.
Dr Niels van Quaquebeke said: “We chose football as the context of our studies because the sport often yields ambiguous foul situations in which it is difficult to determine the perpetrator. In such situations, people must rely on their instincts to make a call, which should increase the use and thus the detectability of a player’s height as an additional decision cue.”
And yes, we did doubt the legitimacy of a piece of research by a crazy scientist whose surname sounds like it contains the words quack and beak but here he is on the faculty web profiles!