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Hic Sunt Leones! The role of national identity on aggressiveness between national football teams

Raul Caruso (), Marco Di Domizio and David Savage

No ispe0076, DISCE - Quaderni del Dipartimento di Politica Economica from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE)

Abstract: This paper examines the role of national identity in explaining on field aggression during soccer competitions between national teams. In particular, this paper empirically investigates whether differences in macro identity markers such as: the economy, religion, education, governance and power between nation-states influence football players’ aggressiveness across a range of international FIFA competitions. We analyse the finals of the FIFA World, Confederations and Under 20’s World Cups as well as the Olympic tournaments from 1994 to 2012, resulting in 1088 individual matches. Our aggression focus is derived from both the (i) weighted measure of penalties (red and yellow cards) and; (ii) the count of sanctions (fouls) issued during a game as a proxy measure for on field aggression. We generate national identity factors from a set of macro level variables in order to estimate the size of national differences, from which we determine the impact that national identity has on the emergence of on field aggression between rival countries. Our results show that these national identity factors are significant predictors of aggression, while the match specific variables seem to be of less importance. Interestingly, our results also show that these aggression factors disappear once we include referee fixed effects, indicating that while national differences are played out on the football pitch the referees are effective at controlling the aggression.

Keywords: Football (soccer) tournaments; penalties; international relations; FIFA competitions, national identity, religion, governance, power, corruption (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D71 D74 F51 F61 L83 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 48
Date: 2015-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-spo
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