Give Domestic Abuse The Red Card

For many people, big sporting events such as the Euros or FIFA World Cup are a time for celebration, positivity and community. This year, the Euros have taken hold of many nations’ focus after a year of delay due to the pandemic which has led to even more hope being pinned to our respective teams after this difficult year in lockdown.

In England, like many countries, football is the most watched and widely watched sport. Their team is in fact, the most closely watched team of any nation, with hopeful fans tuning in to each game waiting for a breakthrough at last. But with so much anticipation and excitement, also comes dread and fear for others. 

Football and domestic violence have been linked for many years, in fact during the last World Cup, The National Centre for Domestic Violence ran eye-opening campaigns with the headline ‘If England gets beaten, so will she’. But just how real is the threat for so many women during these high tension times?

The link has been backed up by a study which looked into reports during three tournaments, 2002, 2006 and 2010 and found that domestic violence incidents reported to the police did rise by 26% when England won or drew and by 38% when they lost.

Another study, this time by LSE, looked into one of the other factors which may be driving the association between these tournaments and a rise in intimate partner violence. That factor is the consumption of alcohol. For many of us, we will have seen people at bars or stadiums watching a game and having a few drinks with friends and other supporters. It’s no surprise that consuming alcohol and sport spectating go hand in hand, unfortunately intoxication and violent behaviour also seem to have strong links.

In a study published by the Office for National Statistics in 2018, in 39% of cases that year, victims of violent crime in England and Wales believed that their perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol. They also noted that women who had been at the end of violent behaviour were more likely to be victims of domestic abuse perpetrated by a partner, ex-partner or family member than victims of violence by strangers or acquaintances. 

While the link between football and domestic violence is complex and difficult to prove, LSE’s study shows some strong correlations between the two. During a ten year period, they focused on England’s national team games during World Cups and UEFA Euro Championships and noticed that reports of alcohol-related domestic abuse incidents on days when England win in the tournament go up by a staggering 47% and by 18% on the days after. In contrast, there was no increase in non-alcohol related domestic abuse reports on match days or on days when England’s national rugby team played in big tournaments such as the Six Nations including both alcohol and non-alcohol related cases.

The evidence shows a strong indication that the consumption of alcohol, which goes up on match days, is the likely cause for the rise of domestic abuse cases. This is a scary fact, and a reality that many women around the world are living through. 

“Remember: you are important. You are not alone and violence is never acceptable”

If you are, or know anyone who may be a victim of domestic abuse you can visit the Actionaid website, a website offering advice on how to develop a safety plan. Seeking local support networks is a great way to get direct help, however there are also a few steps you can take in the meantime.

1. Emergency Services. If the emergency services in your area are reliable and likely to support you in an emergency, make a plan for how you will call them and if you live with children, ensure they know how to contact these services too.

2. Check to see if there are any local groups or associations you trust who will be able to help, perhaps you even have neighbours who you know you could rely on.

4. If you are able to prepare and hide an emergency bag with some clothes, medicines, important documents this will be helpful to make an escape should you need to leave quickly. It is also a good idea to hide small amounts of money in places you can access.

5. Practise self-care. It’s easy to forget how important this is, but remember that you are important and worthy of a good life. Try breathing exercises, staying active and doing things you enjoy like listening to music or cooking.  

Ultamodan are a corporate sponsor of RISE UK, an independent Brighton-based charity. To find out more and to make a donation to this great cause, please visit their website. With your help we can work together to get more women the assistance they need to get out of a violent and abusive relationship or household and build a better, safer life.