October 18, 2011

Radio Interview: Cheating in Soccer

Last week, Robbie was interviewed on 612 ABC Brisbane radio. Here's the link!

October 14, 2011

A Dive ... and A Laugh

We've been talking a bit lately about cheating. About when it happens in soccer, and why, and what can be done about it. But to put our work in context, we thought you might like to see a) one of the most famous dives in the history of football:

and b) a funny video about how to combat cheating in soccer:


October 06, 2011

Tackling the Problem of Diving in Football

Some consider it an art form, others cheating. Whatever your thoughts, diving by soccer players is one of the most controversial and despised actions in sport. Diving represents a deliberate attempt to deceive the referee, with players falling – even rolling around - to suggest they’ve been illegally fouled. Diving has long been a source of embarrassment for the world’s most popular sport, yet even football’s governing body (FIFA) has had little success at stamping out this behaviour.

University of Queensland PhD student Gwendolyn David, along with her supervisor Dr Robbie Wilson and other UQ colleagues have taken a fresh look at diving behaviour in an attempt to identify the mechanisms that can be used to control it.

In a study published this week in the prestigious open-access journal, PLOS One [http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0026017] these researchers explored the behaviour of soccer players and referees in the context of animal signalling theory. “Theory predicts that deceptive behaviour should occur only when the prospective benefits outweigh the costs and when the risk of detection is low,” says Ms David. “So we expected that deception would be driven by the potential payoffs and would be limited by punishment.”

David undertook a play-by-play examination of 60 matches across six high-profile professional leagues to see when and where players faked fouls, and when they were likely to get away with it (or not). She found that – as predicted - diving occurred most often when the potential payoff was greater: namely, in the offensive side of the field and when the two teams had tied scores.

But the most exciting result came from looking between the leagues. “We found that players dived more often in leagues where referees were more likely to reward dives with a free-kick or penalty,” says Dr Wilson.

This means that when referees don’t detect or punish diving then dives are more common. “The most effective means of controlling deception, whether it’s a footballer or an animal, is via punishment. But, of the more than 2800 falls we observed and the 169 dives, we never once saw a diving player punished,” says David.

“Our results clearly show that reducing deception in sports like soccer is largely up to the referee and governing bodies. Players will try to deceive referees when the benefits are high, but better detection and administration of punishment may help reduce its prevalence” says Dr Wilson.
“Some progressive professional leagues, such as the Australian A-League and American MLS, have already started handing down punishments for players found guilty of diving. This is the best way to decrease the incentive for diving,” said Dr Robbie Wilson.
For more information on the study or for interviews, please contact Dr Robbie Wilson (Senior Researcher) at +61 458204962 or [email protected]. For other information on this research group’s work see the lab website: www.soccerscience.net

August 28, 2011

Using Soccer Skills to Combat Homelessness

Before we talk about soccer and homelessness, let's have a quick think about those less fortunate than ourselves. More than 1/6th of the world's population is homeless. And if that doesn't shock you in itself, have a look at the statistics country-by-country.

So, what does soccer have to do with any of this? Each year, the Homeless World Cup brings together amateur soccer players from across the world to play football on common ground - but unlike the FIFA World Cup, participants of this competition come from war-torn or poor or disadvantaged backgrounds. The Homeless World Cup began in 2003, and since then more than 200,000 players have participated. Remarkably, more than 70% of these have changed their lives in positive, healthy ways: by gaining work, beating addiction, reestabilishing relationships, and finding homes.

How does that happen? What's the magic formula to turn these lives around?

#1 - you take a game loved by millions around the world, played on fields and streets and rooftops, with or without shoes

#2 - you bring together people from around the world who have two things in common: difficult living circumstances and a love of soccer

#3 - you encourage, cheer, and teach these people via soccer. In the process of learning more about the skills needed to perform well on the field, they also learn life skills.

If you're interested, you can read more about the link between skills in soccer and skills in life in a recent NY Times article, here. But even if you don't click through, I'd encourage you to think about this notion for a moment:
What skills transfer from the field to everyday adult life?
How can we teach our children life lessons via soccer?
It's worth thinking about. As is homelessness.

May 29, 2011

Round 12 UQFC vs Redlands Highlights

More UQ highlights!

Round 12 UQFC vs Redlands (Premier)
Round 12 UQFC vs Redlands (Reserves)
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