Discussion Paper

No. 2019-19 | March 04, 2019
Home advantage in European international soccer: Which dimension of distance matters?


The authors investigate whether the home advantage in soccer differs by various dimensions of distance between the (regions of the) home and away teams: geographical distance, climatic differences, cultural distance, and disparities in economic prosperity. To this end, they analyse 2,012 recent matches played in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. The authors find that when the home team plays at a higher altitude, they benefit substantially more from their home advantage. Every 100 meters of altitude difference is associated with an increase in expected probability to win the match, as the home team, by 1.1 percentage points.

JEL Classification:

L83, J44, Z00


  • Downloads: 455


Cite As

Nils Van Damme and Stijn Baert (2019). Home advantage in European international soccer: Which dimension of distance matters? Economics Discussion Papers, No 2019-19, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2019-19

Comments and Questions

Anonymous - Invited reader comments
March 15, 2019 - 08:06

My assessment of the paper “Home advantage in European international soccer: Which dimension of distance matters” is overall good.
A detailed account of major and minor comments can be found in the enclosed document; below I briefly summarize my two major comments:

1) the magnitude of the effect ...[more]

... of difference in altitude that they find is much larger than the result from a paper they cite (and by the way, they have left out of the references list one important study from BMJ)

2) I do not think that there is a strong difference in altitude among European teams homes, and that such a difference could have an actual impact on performance. I am afraid that the most important result they find is strongly driven by outliers; thus, they should present descriptive statistics for each difference dimension.

Anonymous - Referee Report 1
March 18, 2019 - 08:05

see attached file

Anonymous - Referee Report 2
March 21, 2019 - 08:20

Using data from the UEFA Champion and Europe league, this paper tests whether “distance” matters for the home advantage. In contrast to previous papers on home advantage, the authors use several different measures, including travel distance, altitude difference, temperature difference, precipitation difference, culture difference, wealth difference. Estimating the interaction ...[more]

... between these difference measures and the “home” variable, the authors find that only the altitude interaction effect is significantly different from zero.

Major comments
- Discussion of results: the authors miss to discuss and interpret the results and differences to other studies. E.g., in the Discussion section, they mention their own result on altitude (100m difference=0.032 points difference) and the result of Pollard and Armatas (2017) who find that (with a different sample) that 1000m are related to 0.1115 points difference. How can this strong difference (3x) be explained?
- Altitude: in contrast to Pollard and Armatas (2017) who use matches in the World Cup qualification, which also includes South American stadiums playing partly at very higher altitudes, there is not much information on the actual altitude difference. In the descriptive statistics, the mean is 0 (since each game is counted twice). What is the average difference between home and away teams? What does the distribution look like?
- For altitude, but also for other variables central to this paper: while this variables certainly differ between the location of teams, many of the teams are from rather similar backgrounds (most teams, for example, in Germany, France, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, …, probably play at very similar levels of altitude). Are results driven by outliers? Not that this would be not interesting, but it would be important to discuss this sufficiently in the paper.

Stijn Baert - Replies to reader comments and referee reports
March 25, 2019 - 08:58

see attached file