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Injury risk of competitive matches

Friday August 17th 2012

When football teams are closely matched in terms of ability, there is more likelihood of aggression and violence on the field that will lead to the risk of serious injury.

This is the main finding from a psychologist test of the resource holding potential (RHP) theory, the perceived ability to win a contest, which scientists found can effect what happens in both football and basketball.

Footballers can behave like animals if both sides are closely matched in terms of competitive ability. In a similar sense, two warring animals are more likely to injure themselves when each has a roughly equal chance of winning, it is believed.

Results were analysed from the German first division, the Bundesliga, which measured conflict escalation based on the number of fouls committed. The results showed that the foul rate increased when two closely-matched teams played each other.

When there was no difference between the ranking of the two teams the study found that 39.15 fouls per game were committed, against an average over the course of five seasons, involving all teams in the Bundesliga, of only 38.76.

In contrast, when teams at the top and bottom of the league met, far less aggression was seen and there were 4.56 fewer fouls.

Copyright Press Association 2012

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