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Domestic abuse seen rising in U.K. during World Cup matches

Sept. 20, 2013
Courtesy of Lancaster University
and World Science staff

Do­mes­tic abuse in­creases dur­ing World Cup soc­cer match­es—espe­cially if the home team loses, a study in the U.K. has found.

Re­search­ers from Lan­caster Uni­vers­ity in the U.K. an­a­lyzed fig­ures from the U.K.’s Lan­ca­shire Con­stab­u­lary across three tour­na­ments in 2002, 2006, and 2010. 

Af­ter tak­ing in­to ac­count ex­pected varia­t­ions by day of the week, re­ported do­mes­tic abuse in­ci­dents rose by 38 per­cent when the Eng­land team played and lost, com­pared with days when there was no Eng­land match, the study found. In­ci­dents were found to in­crease by 26 per­cent when the team played and won or tied. Do­mes­tic abuse re­ports were found to be 11 per­cent high­er even the day af­ter an Eng­land match.

The re­port is pub­lished online ahead of print in the Jour­nal of Re­search in Crime and De­lin­quen­cy. The re­search­ers found that the av­er­age num­ber of in­ci­dents of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence on the days when Eng­land played was 79.3 com­pared with 58.2 on the days the team did­n’t play.

A po­lice of­fic­er quot­ed in the re­port said: “The World Cup ap­pears a rea­son for many to par­ty. How­ev­er, de­light and ex­pecta­t­ion can turn in­to des­pair and con­flict with the kick of a bal­l.” The re­search­ers al­so found that re­ported do­mes­tic abuse in­ci­dents in­creased in fre­quen­cy with each new tour­na­ment, from an av­er­age of 64 in 2002 ris­ing to 99 in 2010.

There could be sev­er­al fac­tors be­hind the find­ings, they said.

“The tour­na­ment is held in the sum­mer and is as­so­ci­at­ed with warm­er tem­per­a­tures, in­creased al­co­hol con­sump­tion and brings in­di­vid­u­als in clos­er proxim­ity to oth­ers,” the re­search­ers wrote. “Although it is dif­fi­cult to say the tour­na­ment is a caus­al fac­tor, the pres­tig­ious tour­na­ment does con­cen­trate the risk fac­tors in­to a short and vol­a­tile pe­ri­od, there­by in­ten­si­fying the con­cepts of mas­culin­ity, ri­val­ry and ag­gres­sion.”

They added that the fig­ures could have ris­en due to the in­creased com­mer­cial­iz­a­tion of the tour­na­ment.

A U.K. So­cial Ser­vic­es rep­re­sent­a­tive said “the tour­na­ment goes on for a whole month. This cre­ates all sort of prob­lems, of­ten ag­gra­vated by al­co­hol, on the small­est of is­sues such as what pro­gram the TV is tuned in­to.” The re­search­ers say they hope the find­ings will lead to new ways to tack­le do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.


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Domestic abuse increases during World Cup soccer matches—especially if the home team loses, a study in the U.K. has found. Researchers from Lancashire University in the U.K. analysed figures from Lancashire Constabulary across three tournaments in 2002, 2006, and 2010. After taking into account expected variations by day of the week, reported domestic abuse incidents rose by 38 percent when the England team played and lost, compared with days when there was no England match, the study found. Incidents were found to increase by 26 percent when the team played and won or tied. Domestic abuse reports were found to be 11% higher even the day after an England match. The report was published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. The researchers found that the average number of incidents of domestic violence on the days when England played was 79.3 compared with 58.2 on the days the team didn’t play. A police officer quoted in the report said: “The World Cup appears a reason for many to party. However, delight and expectation can turn into despair and conflict with the kick of a ball.” The researchers also found that reported domestic abuse incidents increased in frequency with each new tournament, from an average of 64 in 2002 rising to 99 in 2010. There could be several factors behind the findings, they said. “The tournament is held in the summer and is associated with warmer temperatures, increased alcohol consumption and brings individuals in closer proximity to others,” the researchers wrote. “Although it is difficult to say the tournament is a causal factor, the prestigious tournament does concentrate the risk factors into a short and volatile period, thereby intensifying the concepts of masculinity, rivalry and aggression.” They added that the figures could have risen due to the increased commercialization of the tournament. A U.K. Social Services representative said “the tournament goes on for a whole month. This creates all sort of problems, often aggravated by alcohol, on the smallest of issues such as what program the TV is tuned into.” The researchers say they hope the findings will lead to new ways to tackle domestic violence.