Towards policies to eradicate ethnic discrimination in amateur sports

Keywords: field experiment, intervention, ethnic discrimination, amateur soccer


Field experiments in the last decade documented discrimination in several social domains: labour, housing, education, transportation, and sports. Previous research shows that when asking to join a training with an amateur soccer club, people with foreign-sounding names are significantly less likely to receive a positive response than those with native-sounding names. This result differs in magnitude but is traceable across 23 European countries, including Switzerland (Gomez-Gonzalez et al., 2021; Nesseler et al., 2019). The findings redirect attention from self-segregation to collective exclusion mechanisms when analyzing the ethnic participation gap in amateur sports. The negative implications are magnified as research identifies sport participation as key in promoting social integration among minority group members.

Experimental economics also show that field experiments can play a crucial role in developing effective policies to combat discrimination in the future decade. Previous research demonstrates the importance of intervention studies to test the effectiveness of the policies, as not all have the intended results. Dur et al. (2022) analyze the effectiveness of a low-cost intervention to reduce discrimination among amateur soccer clubs in Norway. A correspondence test is preceded by an anti-discrimination intervention in collaboration with the Norwegian Football Federation (NFF). The intervention is based on an information campaign sent via email to a random selection of amateur soccer clubs, which do not modify their behavior as expected.

The experimental design of an intervention makes it possible to estimate the causal effect of a low-cost policy against discrimination in the field. In this research, I design an intervention to reduce the ethnic response gap among amateur soccer clubs in Switzerland, where more than 1,000 amateur clubs would be subject to an intervention. I explore the features of the information campaign: message, sender, and channel, and potential collaborations with sports governing bodies to increase the impact of such policy.


Dur, R., Gomez-Gonzalez, C., & Nesseler, C. (2022). How to reduce discrimination? Evidence from a field experiment in amateur soccer. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 49(1), 175-191.

Gomez-Gonzalez, C., Nesseler, C., & Dietl, H. M. (2021). Mapping discrimination in Europe through a field experiment in amateur sport. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 8, Article 95.

Nesseler, C., Gomez-Gonzalez, C., & Dietl, H. (2019). What’s in a name? Measuring access to social activities with a field experiment. Palgrave Communications, 5, Article 160.

How to Cite
Gomez-Gonzalez, C. (2023). Towards policies to eradicate ethnic discrimination in amateur sports. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 8(2), 005.