Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics

Punishing the Foreigner: Implicit Discrimination in the Premier League Based on Oppositional Identity

Journal Article

Abstract

We present the first empirical study to reveal the presence of implicit discrimination in a non‐experimental setting. By using a large dataset of in‐match data in the English Premier League, we show that white referees award significantly more yellow cards against non‐white players of oppositional identity. We argue that this is the result of implicit discrimination by showing that this discriminatory behaviour: (i) increases in how rushed the referee is before making a decision, and (ii) it increases in the level of ambiguity of the decision. The variation in (i) and (ii) cannot be explained by any form of conscious discrimination such as taste‐based or statistical discrimination. Moreover, we show that oppositional identity players do not differ in their behaviour from other players along several dimensions related to aggressiveness and style of play providing further evidence that this is not statistical discrimination.

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