Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Jim Monks


This paper examines referee bias in the Major League Soccer (MLS), particularly looking at referees’ decisions regarding penalty kicks. After analyzing the 520 penalty kicks sanctioned since the inception of the MLS, this study ascertains that referees’ display a considerable bias favoring the home team when awarding the initial penalty kick of a game. Additionally, this study demonstrates that in matches with more than one penalty kick, the penalties are disproportionately awarded to each team, suggesting that referees are compensating or atoning for their initial calls. Moreover, when sanctioning a second penalty kick, there is a bias effect of 5.4% in favor of the home team. This work also contributes to the literature of referee bias by determining that the sanctioning of a second penalty is independent of the outcome of the first penalty kick.

Included in

Economics Commons