Chair of Performance Analysis and Sports Informatics publishes in “PLOS ONE” journal


Dr. Otto Kolbinger

Dr. Otto Kolbinger

Video referee decisions are often discussed in German football. Since the 2017/18 season, disputed scenes in the Bundesliga can now be reviewed and possibly even revised. The “Video Assistant Referee” (VAR) has also been used in the English Premier League since the 2019/20 season. However, in many cases these decisions are not communicated transparently enough, leading to discontent among fans.

The Chair of Performance Analysis and Sports Informatics headed by Prof. Dr. Martin Lames has now investigated the extent to which the mood of spectators in the English Premier League is deteriorating. Dr. Otto Kolbinger, Research Associate, and Melanie Knopp, graduate of the master's program “Sport & Exercise Science”, analyzed the immediate effects of the video referee on the moods of English Premier League fans using the social media channel TwitterOS ON. In total, 643,251 English-language tweets from 129 games were included in the study, which included 94 VAR incidents. The results have now been published under the title “Video kills the sentiment - Exploring fans' reception of the Video Assistant Referee in the English Premier League using Twitter data” in the journal “PLOS ONE”, which has an impact factor of 2.740.

The research project used the method of “text mining”, an algorithm-based analysis procedure to discover semantic structures in text data. It is used to generate added value from particular types of data. The study focused on the automatic extraction of implicit knowledge from large amounts of text data, in this case tweets, which were extracted via the use of an interface. In total, over 58,000 tweets (9.1 per cent of all tweets) directly referred to the video referee.

“We used the official hashtag of each game, which enabled us to make sure that the tweets also applied to the respective game,” Dr. Kolbinger explains the procedure. “We also used a new text classification algorithm for the first time, which, in our case, performed better than algorithms used in previous studies. To avoid so-called overfitting, i.e., the over-adaptation of a model to a given data set, we have included only a fraction of the variables in each of the model creation steps”. According to Kolbinger, however, the algorithm would also have to be tested for other topics and with larger samples.

“Dr. Otto Kolbinger and Melanie Knopp's research project is a pioneering achievement,” says Prof. Lames. “The two have both been working with a novel technology that they have developed themselves and applied for the first time in Germany. It is an innovative and groundbreaking contribution that will advance science in this field”.

The data analysis was used to determine whether a tweet referring to a specific VAR situation was formulated positively or negatively. The research team found that the average mood of tweets related to video referee decisions was significantly lower when compared to other tweets. 76.24 percent of the more than 58,000 tweets were formulated negatively, 12.33 percent positively and 11.43 percent neutrally. On the other hand, positive formulations (39.37%) were more common among tweets without any reference to VAR than negative ones (31.30%).

Furthermore, the average mood of all tweets for each game was examined chronologically, which showed that the mood for tweets published in the periods following a VAR incident was significantly lower in comparison to the periods before. This slump lasted for an average of 20 minutes. In this way it could be proven that the use of VAR led to a predominantly negative mood during the respective games on Twitter. These results also gave rise to the striking and evocative study title: “Video kills the sentiment”.

“These sentiment analyses allow us to measure audience reactions both quantitatively and qualitatively,” explains Prof. Lames. “In addition, assessments and even emotions can be investigated, which is an extremely valuable marketing tool.”

Based on the results, the research team concluded that the current status quo cannot be considered satisfactory and therefore recommends that the governing bodies of the European football associations and leagues improve the current system. “The football associations should try to communicate with greater transparency in all VAR decisions,” recommends Dr. Kolbinger. “To ensure this transparency, the federations could broadcast the communications between the referee on the field and the video referee, as is the case with hockey, for example. An alternative would be to introduce the possibility of a 'Coaches Challenge', just like in American football. However, these are only some of the considerations that we would like to share with you on the basis of our results”.

 

To the publication „Video kills the sentiment – Exploring fans’ reception of the Video Assistant Referee in the English Premier League using Twitter data”

To the homepage of the Chair of Performance Analysis and Sports Informatics

 

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Martin Lames
Chair of Performance Analysis and Sports Informatics
Georg-Brauchle-Ring 60/62
80992 München

phone: 089 289 24500
e-mail: Martin.Lames(at)tum.de

Dr. Otto Kolbinger
Chair of Performance Analysis and Sports Informatics
Georg-Brauchle-Ring 60/62
80992 München

phone: 089 289 24502
e-mail: Otto.Kolbinger(at)tum.de


Text: Romy Schwaiger
Photos: Ulrich Benz/TUM