The number of reports of domestic abuse to a national domestic violence charity in England has increased during the World Cup period, with some police forces also reporting a rise. However, not all regions see an increase and women’s charities warn football shouldn’t be seen as cause of violence but a potential trigger of a year-round problem.
“If England get beaten, so will she,” reads a poster published by the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV), a charity service that supports survivors of domestic abuse.
It features a St George’s flag drawn in what looks like blood across a woman’s mouth.
The warning of the rise of domestic violence is just one example of a number of campaigns from women’s charities and police forces that have been raising awareness of the increased risk of domestic violence during World Cup season.
The NCDV said it received 500 more reports of domestic abuse in ten days during the World Cup than it did in the period before, according to numbers revealed to WikiTribune. The service offers legal advice and support to victims of domestic violence.
Domestic abuse is a pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, by one person against a partner or spouse.
From July 1 to July 10, the charity received 2619 reports of domestic violence. In comparison, a ten-day period before the World Cup began saw the charity receive 2119 reports. That’s 500 less than those reported during the football period.
Survivors of domestic violence can contact the service via an app, online, by phone, by text, or with a “referral form.” The numbers shared with WikiTribune include all of these put together.
“It should be a World Cup of good things rather than bad things,” said Mark Groves, the CEO of the National Centre for Domestic Violence.
While he denies a sport as the cause of domestic violence, he said there are “several factors” as to why the number of incidents can rise during the World Cup season.
“One of them is that it’s a warmer temperature. There’s increased alcohol consumption during this period and a crowd can intensify the concept of rivalry and aggression,” he said.
He continued: “What we’ve got is the people drinking alcohol, we know alcohol is related to domestic violence. And then they’re put in this crowd situation which increases their aggression.”
Groves added that it’s not football itself, but the factors that surround football that lead to more violence including domestic violence.
Domestic violence is not caused by the world cup, football or any sport, but the unfortunate truth is that it leads to a rise in attacks. Research shows #DomesticViolence increases by 26% when #England play. 38% if they lose. For help please call free phone number 0808 802 1414
Figures revealed to WikiTribune show the number of reports of domestic abuse incidents to some police forces in England have risen since the football tournament started.
In West Yorkshire, there was a “marked increase” in domestic abuse reports on Saturday July 7, the day England secured its place in the World Cup semi-final.
The number of incidents reported to the police that day was up 128 on the equivalent Saturday last year, according to figures shared with WikiTribune by West Yorkshire Police.
“What we cannot say is whether this was due to the England game specifically,” said Lindsey Wyatt, Communications Officer for West Yorkshire Police.
“I suspect that it was due to a combination of reasons and against a backdrop of increased alcohol consumption generally partly due to the football but also due to the hot weather.”
Wyatt said there has also been a “general increase in contacts with the police compared to last year.”
The issue of football and increased violence isn’t new to the police force and has concerned domestic abuse survivors for years.
West Yorkshire police was so concerned about World Cup-enhanced domestic violence that it launched a campaign to raise awareness of the problem ahead of the opening of the football championship.
A mix of too much beer and the excitement of #WorldCup2018 can lead to domestic abuse, help is available for everyone https://t.co/zrlmCZmk0t
But a relationship between the World Cup and domestic violence has not been seen all over the country.
‘No evidence’ to support link
A tweet displaying evidence found by Lancaster University researchers that domestic violence reports rose 38 percent in the area if England lost a game in the 2014 World Cup went viral.
But the two are not inextricably linked.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary report figures seen by WikiTribune showed no explicit rise in domestic violence incidents during the World Cup.
The Metropolitan Police in London also told WikiTribune they had “no evidence at this stage to prove a definitive link between domestic abuse and football.”
While there was a small spike in domestic incidents reported on July 7, the day of England’s quarter final match, the 66 reports were not significantly higher than previous days. On July 5, 57 incidents were reported, while on July 6 there were 49 reported incidents.
Similarly, the number of domestic incidents reported to the Cambridgeshire Constabulary during the first three weeks of this year’s World Cup, June 14 to July 4 (1019 incidents reported), were actually lower than those reported on the same period in last year (1111 incidents reported), when there was no World Cup.
England’s performance in the #WorldCup has been linked to a surge in domestic abuse. Though football and alcohol may escalate behaviour, domestic violence is a choice perpetrators make; and the vast majority of men who enjoy football do not choose to abuse their partners.
Lauren Alexander, a senior communications officer for Cambridgeshire Constabulary said there is “no evidence” to support the theory that the World Cup is linked to an increase in domestic violence.
Either way, football should not be blamed as the cause of domestic violence as it is an issue all year round, say domestic abuse and women’s charities.
“Football – and the alcohol that tends to go with it – can be aggravating factors when it comes to domestic violence, but they are not the root cause,” said Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of UK domestic violence charity Refuge, said in an email sent to WikiTribune.
“Women experience violence and abuse at the hands of their partners every day, not just when football is on the TV. Many forces are undertaking awareness raising campaigns warning that domestic violence will not be tolerated – but this shouldn’t be limited to football tournaments. Domestic violence is an appalling crime that kills two women every week in England and Wales. Police must take a zero tolerance approach all year round.”