In the setting of four FIFA World Cups, this article examines the effect of the national team participation and other variables as predictors of football matches audience size. It compares not only the audience of those matches with/without the presence of the national team during the same tournament (as prior research), but also the audience of matches from tournaments with/without the participation of the national team. Results show that when the national team qualifies and participate in the tournament, the home team effect represents the most relevant predictor of audience size, followed by match quality and scheduling variables. When the national team fails to qualify to the tournament, different predictors of audience behavior are detected. Moreover, the comparison between these scenarios reveals an ancillary home team effect for the whole tournament in which the local team is taking part and a straight effect when it is present on the screen.
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