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Why fans cover their faces when football players take penalties – a psychologist explains

Penalty shootouts in football are one of the most unpredictable and dramatic events in sport, producing moments of utter ecstasy and deep despair in players and managers. As we saw in the recent UEFA Euro 2020 championship, fans often cover their faces when players take penalties. Research shows us why. There are psychological reasons behind the powerful emotions that fans’ experience, and behind the nervous facial and body expressions in the image above. Although the penalty taker may draw on feelings of competence and control to lessen their anxiety and stress, fans have no control over events. Indeed, as fans have very little ability to influence events beyond cheering to encourage their team and jeering to put off the opposition, sometimes fans will cover their faces as a way of coping and to partially block out what is happening.........Read more