written by
Tom Schwarz
Tom Schwarz
Food for Thoughts

Home advantage squandered?

Home advantage squandered?

Corona has changed our world. We have to start changing as well. Instead of feverishly awaiting the redeeming vaccine like children do Santa, we should start getting used to the "new normal". For now, we will be living in a world where we wear masks in public life, greet each other with a wave instead of a hug or handshake, fly less often and travel less - and where football is played in silent, empty stadiums.

Speaking of which: only every fifth home game has resulted in a win for the home team since the German Bundesliga started playing their so-called "ghost games". Compare this with a normal season where home victory rates range between 40 and 50 percent. Without spectators is the home advantage gone? Sports scientists lack a sound basis for the discussion, as the amount of data is far too small to draw any conclusions, especially as the 2nd Bundesliga, with a good 40 percent of home wins, leads to the opposite conclusion.

But what role do the fans play in the outcome of a match, do they really strengthen the home advantage for the host team? Apparently so. Starting with the referee - home fans put him under constant pressure which leads to an above-average number of yellow cards for similar violations. Moreover, there have been more free kicks and fouls against the home team during the ghost games than normal. Fans can also be a disadvantage, however, if they create too much pressure on their own team through high expectations.

Whatever the trigger may be, the lack of home advantage is a remarkable phenomenon. Fan researchers are convinced that football must ultimately be understood as a unit, because not only individual parts of the team and clubs are affected, but the fan and football culture as a whole. If you take one part of the complex system of football out, it has scientifically proven effects on the results on the pitch.

And because professional football clubs are managed like large companies, here we can also draw parallels with the economy. Here too, the "home advantage" for brands and corporations, i.e. unrestricted, uncritical tolerance of all activities, seems to have been lost for the most part. Consumers and brand "fans" have become much more sensitive as a result of the pandemic and are changing their accustomed consumer behaviour and thus also their expectations of companies. They are questioning the meaning of the pandemic and want to be better informed about the product origin, supply chains and resources. They demand unrestricted transparency, authenticity and honesty. Brand loyalty generated over years is squandered within days. Earning money at any price is no longer idly tolerated as the worldwide #stophateforprofit boycott campaign against Facebook, which more than 400 well-known companies have signed up to, shows.

Brands are using all the buzzwords like a reflex: from diversity, attitude through to purpose. Here it is worth taking a look at field sports where diversity management and its results has long been a success factor. Not driven by any charitable aid to help "minorities", but to achieve tough economic goals and remain competitive. Even our national team is peppered with players whose family roots lie elsewhere, in Spain, Poland, Turkey and northern Africa. Diversity brings strength. Different talents, different cultures, different approaches can be used in a targeted manner to advance and achieve the big picture.

Companies that only ever recruit employees that mirror themselves, who supposedly fit their culture well, decide against change in the long run. This is because corporate culture should be understood less as a means of preserving the status quo and more as an instrument of transformation. If employees and all their facets feel valued, they contribute their skills and ideas more effectively. And this also helps to win new customer groups and to prevent the loss of existing ones.