Domestic Abuse Surges During England's Tournaments

Domestic Abuse Surges During England's Tournaments

On Sunday, England face Serbia in their first game of the 2024 Euros tournament. The country will be backing Southgate’s side as they travel to Gelsenkirchen to kick-off.

Meanwhile, here at home, behind closed doors, a completely different battle is about to kick-off for thousands of women. The main opponent? Their partner.

Football is often hailed as ‘the beautiful game’, however, the nationwide passion for a sport that is inextricably linked to England can sometimes reveal a darker side - particularly during major international tournaments like the Euros.

Here in the UK, a disturbing trend has been observed: a significant increase in domestic abuse incidents coinciding with England's football matches.

Multiple studies and reports have confirmed a correlation between England's participation in football tournaments and spikes in domestic abuse incidents. Research conducted by Lancaster University revealed a 38% increase in domestic abuse reports when England loses and a 26% increase when our team wins or draws. The heightened patriotic emotions, alcohol consumption, sense of “Englishness” and an “us v. them” rhetoric fueled by media narratives of these matches are contributing factors to this alarming pattern.

The National Centre for Domestic Violence corroborated these findings during the 2018 World Cup, reporting a 25% rise in domestic abuse cases on days when England played. These figures underscore the consistent and troubling link between football matches and domestic abuse.

Several factors contribute to the spike in domestic abuse during football tournaments:

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Emotional and Psychological Stress

Football matches, especially those involving national pride, elicit strong emotions. The outcomes of these games can lead to extreme reactions, whether it's the elation of a win or the frustration and disappointment of a loss. These heightened emotions can exacerbate tensions at home, leading to abusive behavior.

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Alcohol Consumption

Football viewing is often accompanied by increased alcohol consumption, which can impair judgment and exacerbate aggressive tendencies. Alcohol is a known risk factor in domestic abuse cases, further inflaming already volatile situations.

A 2020 study (Trendl, Stewart & Mullett) used 10 years’ worth of crime data from the second largest police force in England (West Midlands Police). They found that of the 427,351 reported cases of domestic abuse in this period, 26% were alcohol-related (in contrast, only 9% of non-domestic abuse cases were alcohol-related).

Furthermore, an analysis of the 2016 Euros found that viewers encountered 122 references to alcohol per broadcast on average – that’s 0.65 per minute (Purves et al., 2017).

The damning fact is that sports broadcasts offer alcohol companies a loophole to avoid post-watershed guidelines, further enticing people to pick up an alcoholic beverage and take the first step on the path that too often results in domestic abuse.

Alcohol isn’t an excuse for domestic abuse. There’s no excuse for domestic abuse.

Social and Cultural Factors

The social environment surrounding football, particularly in pubs and communal viewing areas, can contribute to a culture of aggression. The collective tension and high stakes associated with these matches can spill over into domestic settings, resulting in abusive incidents.

The issue of domestic abuse in the UK is pervasive, affecting a significant portion of the population. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), about 4.1% of people aged 16 and over experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2023. This figure highlights the ongoing prevalence of domestic violence. Put simply, it can affect anyone.

Our new campaign

This month we’re rolling out our new poster campaign across bars, pubs and other venues across Essex where the Euros are being shown.

We designed this in-house to make the public aware of the key statistics surrounding reported domestic abuse incidents when England play in major tournaments.

Of course, we understand that domestic abuse is called so for a reason. It happens at home – and we can’t get our posters into every living room. So here are a few signs you may notice in those around you that could be signs of abuse:

  • Is someone you know or are associating with making derogatory comments about their partner, or women in general?
  • Does a friend consistently make excuses not to come out?
  • Changes in the way people react to certain sounds, or the way their name is said.
  • Walking or driving past your friends’ house, do they always have their curtains closed?
  • Have you noticed a sudden change in personality in someone? Perhaps they are feeling overly low or happy (the latter to compensate), struggling to maintain eye contact or expressing timid body language?
  • A colleague is often sick with seemingly no medical reason. There could be a pattern to this, for example the day after every football game of their partner’s team.
  • Has a friend expressed concern about their partner's behaviour? They might be demanding access to their social media, putting them down, gaslighting them or even just constantly talking over them.

Signs of abuse can be both visible and invisible – a lot of the time, when you have a hunch, it’s worth following up on. You can also do your part by calling out toxic ‘banter’ that may be a red flag for abuse or a potential perpetrators state of mind.

At Next Chapter, we believe that everyone knows someone affected by domestic abuse, so if you see the signs mentioned above, or if you just have a hunch, you can visit our website to find appropriate options to get them support in a safe way.

Click the ‘Get Help’ button to learn more.

Need help urgently?

  • 999 – if there is immediate risk to life
  • Police stations – come into any police station in Essex and you will be able to talk to someone
  • 101 – the non-emergency phone number.
  • Officers or PCSOs on the street

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