A new analysis of voting data for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World’s Best Male Footballer award suggests that cultural similarity between voters and players is skewing the results. Michael Johnson and Ian McCarthy of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, present these findings in the open access journal PLOS ONE.
Previous studies have shown that industry-wide awards, such as the Academy Awards and the National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player award, are influenced by in-group bias. For example, a voter might be more likely to vote for someone from the same country, religion, or gender. However, researchers have paid less attention to the influence of cultural similarity, a set of shared cultural values, on voting in industry awards.
To shed new light, Johnson and McCarthy analyzed voting bias at the annual FIFA World’s Best Men’s Football Player award, which has come under fire for unfairly biased voting. The recipient is determined by the vote of the captains and coaches of the national teams, as well as a journalist from each of the approximately 200 countries.
Researchers assessed voting data from 2010 to 2016, examining the influence of three standard measures of cultural similarity between voter and player: cultural distance, which reflects similarities in language, ethnicity, religion , social network and social norms; cultural clusters, which are based on race, religion, language, geographic proximity and colonial heritage; and collectivism, which involves the degree to which group members feel loyal and responsible to one another.
Analysis of voting data suggested that all three measures of cultural similarity do influence voting for the Best FIFA Men’s Player award. He also reaffirmed that certain internal group factors, such as shared nationality or club league, influence the vote. Less bias emerged for votes from countries with more ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. Also, the captains seemed more biased than the coaches, and the media people were the least biased.
Based on these findings, the researchers suggest various solutions to reduce bias in FIFA awards and other industry awards, such as setting clearer criteria for voters and announcing and lending. inappropriate bias adjustment.
The authors add: “This study shows the propensity for voting bias for the FIFA Ballon D’OR Award and the need for objective criteria regarding what constitutes player quality. We find that nationality, league, club, and voter-player cultural similarity are all important determinants of voting bias in the FIFA Ballon D’OR Award, as opposed to performance criteria such as total number of goals, the number of goals per minute, the total number of assists. , completions, player of the game and saves.