The effect of COVID-19 on home advantage in high- and low-stake situations: Evidence from the European national football competitions

Merim Bilalić*, Mario Graf, Nemanja Vaci

*Corresponding author for this work

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3 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly altered the way sporting events are observed. With the absence or limited presence of spectators in stadiums, the traditional advantage enjoyed by home teams has diminished considerably. This underscores the notion that the support of home fans can often be considered a key factor of the home advantage (HA) phenomenon, wherein teams perform better in front of their own supporters. However, the impact of reduced attendance on games with higher stakes, as opposed to low-stakes friendly matches, remains uncertain. In this study, we investigate the recently concluded European football championship (EURO 20), wherein several teams had the advantage of playing at home in high-stakes games with only one-third of the stadium capacity filled. Firstly, we demonstrate that the Covid-19 restrictions, leading to reduced fan attendance, resulted in a nearly 50% decrease in HA compared to the HA exhibited by the same teams during the qualification stage preceding EURO 20, even after accounting for team strength. Secondly, we show that while low-stakes friendly matches generally exhibit a smaller overall HA compared to high-stakes games, the absence of fans led to a similar reduction in HA during the low-stakes matches. Utilizing the recently developed Home Advantage Mediated (HAM) model (Bilalić, Gula, & Vaci, 2021, Scientific Reports, 21558), we were able to attribute the reduction in both high- and low-stakes games to poorer team performance, with no significant contribution from referee bias.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102492
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date19 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023

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