An Examination of Discrimination in the Premier League
Haverford College. Department of Economics
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This paper examines potential discrimination against non-white players through a study of yellow and red cards awarded to players in the English Premier League throughout the 2010- 11 to 2020-21 seasons. In addition, this paper investigates the effect of explicit monitoring technology, the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in Premier League soccer, to see if referee bias exists or diminishes. I ultimately find that non-white players are less likely to receive yellow cards than white players, reducing their predicted probability of receiving a yellow card by 1.02 percentage points which is statistically significant; this translates to about a 10% reduction. The test for red cards revealed that non-white players receive slightly more red cards than white players, however none of these specifications yielded statistically significant results. The VAR analysis showed that explicit monitoring technology can reduce the probability of referees awarding yellow cards by 1.39 percentage points, which is statistically significant. Further, the lower probability of yellow cards for non-white players disappears in the post VAR period. Finally, position level analyses reveal that all the significant results are driven by issuing of yellow cards to both forwards and defenders.