World Cup linked to domestic violence

New data has been published that suggests reported incidences of domestic violence increase after an England football match...
24 June 2014

Interview with 

Stuart Kirby, University of Lancaster


The World Cup is a huge celebration, but the beautiful game does have a darker side. Argentina attack and miss

New data has been published that suggests reported incidences of domestic violence increase after an England football match. In the time around last Saturday's match against Italy, Cambridgeshire Constabulary reported 21 cases of domestic violence in comparison to 12 cases in the same time period the previous week.

Kat Arney spoke to Dr Stuart Kirby who has been looking at the correlation between the FIFA World Cup and domestic abuse in Lancashire.

Stuart -  We went to Lancashire which has got a population of about 1.5 million.  We went to the police there and took out all the data and we looked at it on a yearly, monthly and daily basis especially over the World Cup.  Now, we looked at the data over 3 World Cups, so 2002, 2006, and 2010.  We found two things.  First of all, we found that there was a match day trend.  So that meant that when England played, even if they won or actually drew the game, there was an increase in domestic abuse of about 26%.  But unfortunately, when they lost, it went up even further and there was an increase of about 38%.  The other trend that we found was that there was a tournament trend.  So 2002, when it went into 2006, there was an increase and then a further increase in 2010.  So unfortunately, we're seeing an increasing trend over the tournaments as well.

Kat -  This sounds very alarming.  Why do you think we've seen this increase every 4 years?

Stuart -  Well, there are lots of studies on domestic abuse and they've come up with many reasons why.  So, many have come up with individual factors.  So, with the individuals involved, it's being due to their personality or the way they responded to something.  But this study really puts forward more of an environmental focus.  Now, we also know from previous studies that domestic abuse is more likely to increase at weekends when people spend more time together.  It's more likely to increase on warm days, on major holidays.  We see a big association with alcohol.  So, some studies will say that in 37 percent of cases, domestic abuse is correlated with alcohol.  And there's even been an American study which said that people argue most over what they will watch on the television when sports is on.  So, the biggest arguments are around sports.  So, what we think is happening is all these risk factors are coming together in a very intense and volatile period.

Kate -  Is this just something that's restricted to Lancashire?  Are the people of Lancashire particularly liable to have a punch up after a footie game or do you think that this trend is something that's happening across the UK?

Stuart -  Well, we know that the trend is happening nationally because there was another study done just on the last World Cup.  Basically, that research just asked for data on the England games in the last World Cup.  So, we sort of rise across the country.  I think another question is, is it actually rising or are people just coming forward with the information.  We found arguments both sides and it just needs more research which is what we're doing during this current World Cup.

Kat -  Broadly, we've moved away from the days of football hooliganism that we're really bad particularly in things like in the '80s - lots of violence outside games in between fans.  Is this maybe an outlet for violence that we're not seeing and not maybe so aware of?  Has it moved?

Stuart -  Well, I think that's a really interesting point actually.  One of the things that I would say about that is, what happened was that in the '60s and '70s when it clearly became a national problem, the police, the football clubs, everybody came together and they put very strong preventative measures in place.  I think what we've got here is, this is just servicing as an issue and the more that's known about it, more and more preventative methods will come into place.

Kat -  So, what do you think is the key to tackling this problem?  Is it just gathering more data about it?  Is it trying to make the idea that violence should be kicked out of football and kicked out in a domestic setting as well?

Stuart -  Well, there's lots of research just on general offender behaviour and one of the benefits of this sort of researches that you can say, well, what's worked with all the crimes, what's worked with violence generally.  Basically, to increase the efforts of the offense taking place to reduce the rewards for taking place.  So, your caller early was talking about the economics of it.  I think when we start to bring some of these factors together, we can do something about it.  But I think the first thing to do is to first of all, highlight the problem and then look at the extent of the problem.  One of the things that we're doing this year in terms of our research is looking specifically at the trigger points.  So, what is exactly?  Is it at the end of the game when the team are going to lose?  Is it when one player doesn't particularly perform?  Is it when there's an argument between partners who are watching the game?  What exactly are the trigger points?  And I think once we know those, we can put the interventions in, which are most likely to work.


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