Sunday, 1 July 2018

VAR In Perspective

Since the World Cup started, there's been a lot of talk about VAR increasing the number of penalties awarded. Betting Tools Brian proclaimed: 

There have been more penalties given this world cup than in the whole of the last one in 2014 and we haven’t yet finished the group stages.
No doubt the 59 penalties awarded in the first twelve games, or whatever the precise number was, had something to do with this idea, but the longer-term evidence doesn't suggest that this is the case at all. Recency effect anyone?

As for 'we haven't yet finished the group stages', this stage comprises 75% of the tournament in terms of matches. The knockout stage is just the icing on the cake, although it is very tasty icing.

The current total is actually 24, (average 0.48 per game), which is indeed the highest ever in a World Cup Finals surpassing 1990's 16, (average of 0.308 per game), but the sample size of one World Cup is small.

Two top leagues in Europe used VAR for the full 2017-18, while England's FA awarded the honour of being chosen for the first VAR match to Crystal Palace in their FA Cup Third Round match at Brighton and Hove Albion earlier this year.

In the Bundesliga last season, there were 88 penalties awarded, down from 97 in 2016-17 and up slightly from 84 in 2015-16. A three year average of 0.29 penalties per game.

In Serie A, there were 119 penalties awarded, down from both the 136 awarded in 2016-17 and the 121 in 2015-16, a three year average 0.33 per game.

Those seasons were for a combined 686 matches, so to jump to conclusions about penalties based on a few World Cup games is a little silly. I don't have the monthly numbers, so it is possible that both those leagues saw an early increase in penalties before teams adjusted and the averages were maintained, but were that the case, i think we would have noticed. 

The average number of penalties in the English Premier League over the past three seasons is a relatively low 0.24, very much in line with Betfair's average 4.05 price on this possibility: 

Last season's top penalty team was Crystal Palace, with most awarded (10) and most scored (8), a statistic that reflects the amount of time spent in opponent's penalty areas. 

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