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Cases of domestic violence surge following big soccer matches: 5% increase every two hours

Sexist attitudes at soccer matches and the availability of alcohol both contribute to higher risk of domestic violence incidence.

Cases of domestic violence surge following big soccer matches: 5% increase every two hours
Image Source: Australian Soccer Fans Gather To Watch UEFA Euro 2020 Final Between England And Italy. MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 12. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

The connection between soccer matches and domestic violence may not seem obvious. However, several studies have concluded that cases of domestic violence surge following a big football match, such as the recent Euro 2020 finals that were recently held in London, United Kingdom. Numerous factors, such as the availability of alcohol and early kick-off times, contribute to this surge in cases. Data from the 2010 World Cup reveals that domestic violence leaped by  27.7 percent when England won a match. When the country lost, an increase of 33.9 percent was recorded. Non-governmental organizations and domestic violence prevention centers have thus focused on bringing awareness to the issue, Yahoo! News reports.



"I also knew that if other guys in the pub, if they lost a match, I knew their wives wouldn’t be out at the weekend, because they’d have a black eye... Or busted ribs or something like that, I just knew," one woman is quoted in a study conducted by the Centre for Economic Performance. According to the study, there is a two percent drop in incidence during the two-hour-long match on game days. Incidence then peaks 10 to 12 hours later, leading to "a positive cumulative effect." The data the researchers collected shows an average hourly increase of 2.8 percent for each hour of a game day. The study was based on all tournaments played by the soccer clubs Manchester City and Manchester United between 2012 and 2019.



There are several, complex factors that lead to the increase in domestic violence cases. One of these is the availability of alcohol. Researcher Anna Trendl writes for the London School of Economics blog, "While the link between [soccer] fandom and domestic abuse is complex, experts have long pointed to alcohol as an important factor in this relationship. Sport spectatorship and alcohol consumption are inextricably linked, and this is especially true in the context of English [soccer] fandom."


Other experts point to the sexist attitudes that are promulgated at games and other venues where fans gather to watch high-tension matches. "Domestic abuse does not happen in a cultural vacuum," former Women's Aid chief executive Katie Ghose explained in an interview with CNN. "The sexist attitudes, chants, and behavior at [soccer] matches encourage an environment in which women are belittled and demeaned." Nonetheless, she pointed out that nothing but perpetrators of domestic violence can be held accountable for the rise in cases. She affirmed, "Categorically, [soccer] does not cause domestic abuse, the behavior, and actions of abusers who exert power and control over their victims cause domestic abuse."


In this context, the domestic abuse charity Pathway Project in the United Kingdom ran an eye-opening campaign in 2018 to end violence against women following soccer matches. That year, one of their graphics went viral. It read: "No one wants England to win more than women." The campaign was based on a 2014 study led by Professor Stuart Kirby. He said at the time, "There was a lot of anecdotal evidence that domestic abuse rose around high profile football games, however, no study was done to see if this was accurate." Now that we have the data, government institutions and domestic prevention organizations must come together to combat this risk of increased violence.


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