Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

A brief guide to when to commit a red card offence

Posted by hakanrylander on February 20, 2009

Defenders often face the decision whether to deny the opponents a scoring opportunity if this means receiving a red card. From now on Ferdinand, Vidic et al can rely on academic research to help them in this decision-making process.

In a study published in the latest issue of Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports three researchers from Colombia University, New York (Vecer, Kopriva, Ichiba) analyse the effects of red cards in soccer. One of the conclusions is that when the opponent’s chance of scoring in a particular situation is 57,5% or higher it’s better to prevent such a scoring opportunity from the very beginning of the game, provided that the offence doesn’t lead to a penalty but just a red card.

The tricky part might be to in an instant calculate whether the probability of scoring is above or below 57,5%.

2 Responses to “A brief guide to when to commit a red card offence”

  1. That is why the world needs statisticians to tell us (with hindsight) if the chance of scoring was 0 or 100%!

  2. But as this is a team variable, Vidic et al. can rely on Sir A. to give them a signal when 57.5% chance of scoring is reached. Maybe in the form of a huge red card, or a Keano sign?

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