A Form of Unequal Playing Field? Referees and Bias in Officiating.

  • Emmanuel Aboagye Physical Education Department, Akrokerri College of Education
Keywords: level playing field, uncertainty, football, home advantage, officiating bias.


The present study examined if subjective decisions by referees’ favour certain teams in the Ghanaian Premier League (GPL). To achieve this, a model was developed to analyse the total number of subjective decisions for a team (penalties in favour and sending offs against opponents) for 16 clubs in the GPL for the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons. Penalties scored and opponents sent-offs for each of the 16 clubs were added and then divided by the overall total number of penalties scored and the overall total number of sent-offs multiplied by 100. Results showed that some clubs have higher subjective decisions in the league for the two seasons than others. Although this could be attributed to other factors, it seems to support the claim that certain clubs have subjective decisions in their favour in the GPL. The home advantage for clubs in the GPL was 80% while the total subjective decisions were (68% of penalties scored by home teams and 74% sent-offs for away teams) supporting the existence of home advantage and bias officiating in the GPL. Suggestions for the future can be found in the discussion section of this research. Future studies should examine the effects of officiating bias on the performance of players in leagues.

How to Cite
Aboagye, E. (2020). A Form of Unequal Playing Field? Referees and Bias in Officiating. Social Education Research, 1(2), 96-101. https://doi.org/10.37256/ser.122020261