Personal und Organisation

Beating thy Neighbor: Derby Effects in German Professional Soccer

It is widely acknowledged that derbies between two teams from the same city or region catch more public attention than “normal” soccer matches. Terms such as “Old Firm” (Rangers vs. Celtic), “Merseyside” (Liverpool FC vs. Everton FC), “Supercl´asico” (Boca Juniors vs. River Plate), and “Revierderby” (Dortmund vs. Schalke) are well-known even to people outside their respective countries of origin. Using data from the German Bundesliga from 1999 to 2009, we test whether derbies differ from other soccer matches with respect to the number of goals scored by each team, match results, and referee evaluations. The results are very surprising given the enormous amount of public attention that derbies with their special character attract: we find that there are no significant differences between derbies and “normal” matches. Despite the importance of derbies for fans and the public, they turn out to be “normal” soccer matches in all other respects.