‘Ghost video games’ in Bundesliga have killed home benefit
Berlin: Could Schalke have played differently on Saturday with 60,000 fans behind them as they chased after an equaliser that never ever came versus Werder Bremen? Freiburg, Mainz and Wolfsburg also suffered home beats this weekend and, who knows, perhaps the Yellow Wall may have been the difference between Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga’s strongest home team till this weekend, remaining in the title race and leaving of it.
Menstruation of the house team is a recent phenomenon and a symptom of the “Geisterspiele” (ghost games) period that the Bundesliga has chosen. Put aside for a minute the fan culture that makes German football so unique or the crucial role clubs play in their neighborhoods, the presence of fans in the stadium can help turn defeats into ties, and ties into wins.
So far since the Bundesliga restart, the numbers support the theory. Only 6 home video games have been won from 33 given that the Bundesliga returned two weeks ago– a phenomenal number that puts the home win ratio at just 21 percent, practically half the season average of 40 percent. The post-hiatus away win ratio is 48 percent, up 11 percent on the season average.
There are some away wins that have been inevitable, of course, and one might make the case that none of the away triumphes seen on match day 29 were that unanticipated. But this is a trend that reveals no signs of abating, as long as fans are not allowed in, and pleads the essential concern: Are ghost video games reasonable?
Freiburg head coach Christian Streich recently said: “For us [smaller teams] the absence of fans injures us more than it does the top teams.”
And groups at the bottom of the table hosting teams at the top– see RB Leipzig’s knocking of Mainz for example– could be seen as unjust on Mainz, whose transfer rivals have actually currently had the opportunity to play Leipzig at home with fans present and, in Eintracht Frankfurt’s case, beaten them.
Werder Bremen, who are battling versus relegation, still have to host Bayern, with their chances of success apparently even more reduced by the lack of fans. While we will never ever know what the outcome of these video games would have been with home teams pressing them on, the data suggest a downside.
Ghost games have actually been offered as a necessary evil in order to bring the game back to individuals, but with home groups seeming like visitors in their own arenas, this phenomenon is another pointer that this isn’t football as we understand it.