Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



After penalties and goals, red cards are the next most significant event that can impact the outcome of a soccer (football) game. Using data from the English Premier League, this paper statistically analyzes the impact of whether a sending-off of a player actually turns out to be a punishment for the penalized team, or if - as a popular soccer myth states – penalized teams perform better than they would have performed, had they not received a red card. The results show that the sending-offs negatively affect the performance of the penalized team, no matter when the sending-off occurs. Getting a red card doesn’t increase the perceived pressure on the remaining players inducing higher effort levels. This is true for both the home and the visiting teams. It contradicts the repeated soccer cliché that playing against ten men is more difficult than eleven.