Scientists have found that in competitive games of team sports statistics show that the teams wearing light coloured strips do better in terms of winning matches compared to those teams wearing darker colours, with teams wearing mostly white doing the best of all.
"We focused our attention on the major European professional football leagues," explains Professor Alfred Balls who headed the study, "and using results from the last 40 years we included only those matches where the two teams playing were within three places of each other in their particular league at that time. We found that in 75.4% of those matches the team wearing the lighter coloured strip won that match, risng to 79.2% of times when taking just the main colour of the shirts being worn."
The reason for why a team wearing lighter colours appear to have an advantage over a team wearing darker colours remains unclear though the Professor thinks it could be because the players wearing the lighter colours are therefore more quickly able to see other players in their team when preparing to pass the ball to them.
"A dark red shirt against the background of green grass will obviously blend in more with the green grass than a brighter colour like yellow or of course white," says Professor Balls. "That may not seem to be sufficient to affect the result of a game to any great degree but in matches where the two teams are of very similar ability even a fraction of a second delay in passing the ball can make the difference between winning or losing that match when all those fractions of a second come to be added up over a match lasting some ninety minutes. The only times when no advantage was found came when the teams had been wearing lighter shirts but darker socks to their opponents. We think this was because the referee and linesmen were finding it easier to see fouls committed by the legs with light coloured socks compared to the legs with dark coloured socks, so it removed the otherwise advantage to the team with lighter coloured shirts."
Professor Balls also pointed out how referees and linesmen wear dark colours precisely for the reason that the dark colour then makes them less noticeable to the players who might otherwise pass the ball to them thinking they are playing for their team.
Britan's professional league soccer matches could soon have to be played by teams wearing comparable brightness of strips. FIFA are taking the findings seriously enough to now be arranging talks to decide whether to force all teams playing matches to wear either light coloured shirts and dark coloured socks, or dark coloured shirts and light coloured socks.
The colour of the team shorts is not thought to be of significance because within just a few minutes of matches kicking off the shorts of the players from both teams tend to be stained with grass and mud anyway given the amount of diving taking place on the pitch by professional soccer players these days!