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The darker side of the World Cup: domestic abuse, violence & sexism

View profile for Victoria Poole
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Football Fever

As World Cup fever grips the country, many of us look forward to supporting the England squad throughout the tournament – enjoying the hot weather with barbeques and cold beers, eagerly awaiting each game whilst keeping our fingers crossed they’ll make it to the final.

But behind all the excitement and emotion during each game, the intense highs and lows, research has revealed a shocking trend in direct correlation with each England match – a significant increase in domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse during the World Cup – the reality

The National Centre for Domestic Violence , the National Police Chiefs’ Counciland the BBC have all conducted research into the correlation, but the largest study of the topic came from Lancaster University in 2013, which analysed Lancashire domestic violence figures from the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cup tournaments.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency found two significant trends:

  • Domestic abuse incidents rose by 26% when the English national team won or drew, and by 38% increase when the national team lost. The day after an England match also saw incidents of domestic abuse rise by 11%.
  • Reports of domestic abuse increased with every World Cup, also indicating a tournament trend.

Domestic abuse is given the red card

As this year’s World Cup approached, police forces throughout the UK have prepared for surges in domestic abuse. 

Several forces have joined the Give Domestic Abuse the Red Card campaign with additional measures across forces including extra dedicated domestic abuse response cars, increased numbers of officers with domestic violence training on duty to protect victims and gather evidence, raised awareness of penalties for offenders and promotion of advice and information for victims. 

The message is clear: domestic abuse will not be tolerated and action will be taken.

Standing united against behaviour underpinning domestic abuse

Women’s Aid is also keen to address and reduce the sexism and misogyny that underpins violence against women and girls.

Since 2014, the charity has been working with football clubs, the FA, The Premier League and broadcasters as part of their campaign Football United Against Domestic Violence, aimed at standing together against domestic abuse and calling out the sexist attitudes and behaviour that some football fans still exhibit.

The charity highlights that football does not cause domestic abuse and that it is the abusers alone who do so, but Katie Ghose, CEO of Women’s Aid says: “the sexist attitudes, chants and behaviour at football matches encourage and environment in which women are belittled and demeaned”.

Ghose adds: “That’s why we’re calling for the football community to stand united against domestic abuse and sexism this World Cup. Together, we can send out the powerful message that domestic abuse is always unacceptable and that there is no place for violence in football whether on or off the pitch”.

Seeking help

The ongoing campaigns and proactive work is all movement in the right direction, to increase awareness, take action against perpetrators and ultimately to stop domestic abuse.

However, in our experience, we know that breaking the cycle of abuse is a process that can take time and whilst it can feel impossible for many victims to access support or escape the abuse, help and advice is always available. 

The National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline (0808 2000 247) is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and further information and support can be found on the Refuge and Women’s Aid websites.

Specialists in Domestic Violence

If you’re a victim or domestic abuse or violence, it is important to report any incident immediately to the police. It is equally important that you seek immediate legal advice and assistance.

At SH&Co. our Family Law department can provide you with legal advice on seeking protection of a Non Molestation Order and/or Occupation Order to ensure you are immediately provided with the necessary information and assistance and we also have a Resolution-accredited specialist in Domestic Abuse and Children within the team.

For a confidential discussion, help or advice, please contact us on 01606 48777 or pop in to one of our FREE Family Law weekly drop-in clinics.