Estimating the Effect of the Red Card in Soccer: When to Commit an Offense in Exchange for Preventing a Goal Opportunity

Jan Vecer; Frantisek Kopriva; Tomoyuki Ichiba
January 2009
Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports;Jan2009, Vol. 5 Issue 1, p1146
Academic Journal
We study the effect of the red card in a soccer game. A red card is given by a referee to signify that a player has been sent off following serious misconduct. The player who has been sent off must leave the game immediately and cannot be replaced during the game. His team must continue the game with one player fewer. We estimate the effect of the red card from betting data on the FIFA World Cup 2006 and Euro 2008, showing that the scoring intensity of the penalized team drops significantly, while the scoring intensity of the opposing team increases slightly. We show that a red card typically leads to a smaller number of goals scored during the game when a stronger team is penalized, but it can lead to an increased number of goals when a weaker team is punished. We also show when it is better to commit a red card offense in exchange for the prevention of a goal opportunity.


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