March 22, 2023

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Referees in Italy are more likely to penalize black players – The Guardian study

BERGAMO, ITALY - APRIL 08: Referee Nicola Rizzoli gestures during the Serie A match between Atalanta BC and US Sassuolo at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia on April 8, 2017 in Bergamo, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

In the modern world, and especially in football, racist scandals have become more frequent. Most cases of racial discrimination occur in Italy and England. The Guardian conducted a study, which revealed a pattern in the decisions of the Serie A referees.

Many fans in Italy adhere to far-right views, so the topic of racism in the country is quite acute. It turned out that referees are also biased towards black players, mainly due to the pressure of fans in the stands.

From 2009 to 2019, Italian referees were 20% more likely to call fouls among black players, give them 11% more yellow cards and 16% more red cards. However, during the Covid-19 period, when matches were played in empty stands, the referees did not show such bias.

The study also clarifies that black players in Italy actually play less aggressively, as they realize they are more likely to be sanctioned.