Euro 2016 and Domestic Violence

UK feminist zine Parallel Magazine - Euro 2016 and Domestic Violence

With the Euro’s kicking off this week, police forces and charities from all over the UK are warning people about the rise in domestic violence that is likely to ensue.

This comes after a notable rise in domestic violence crimes being reported during the 2012 Euro’s and 2014 World Cup, where studies showed that DV incidents reported to police in England rose by 30 per cent during the last World Cup tournament. In fact, after England’s first game against Italy, ‘West Yorkshire Police alone received almost double the number of calls about abuse’, despite similar warnings also being publicised prior to and during those tournaments.

Never the less, it is a positive step for police constabularies,  charities, and the government to be launching campaigns to prevent a surge in domestic violence during the Euro 2016, which will run from 10th June until the 10th July. West Yorkshire Police have already initiated a crackdown on these offences, particularly where children are involved, by arresting over 400 people who have committed DV offences on the run up to the Euro’s. Other forces such as Devon and Cornwall, and Dorset Police have issued statements warning football fans that alcohol-related violence (which also covers domestic violence) will not be tolerated during the Euro 16. The charity, Women’s Aid have also launched a special campaign (Football United Against Domestic Violence) which works with footballing bodies, clubs, the police, players, and fans to send a clear message that domestic violence is always unacceptable.

Of course, this is not to say that football, or any major sporting event, causes domestic violence. Domestic violence is a crime that affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men during their lifetime, and abuse takes place every day. However multiple studies have shown that there is a trend for the rate of domestic violence to increase dramatically after England loses in a major tournament, and still rise significantly even if they win.

It is important to not construed football tournaments as a causal factor to a rise in domestic violence, as abusers are responsible for their own actions. But rather the atmosphere and culture around these events often contribute to a higher risk of DV happening. As Allan Brimicombe and Rebecca Cafe state in their paper, Beware, Win or Lose: Domestic Violence and the World Cup, 'a concoction of factors such as, ‘the levels of alcohol consumption linked to the highly charged emotional nature of those events, seems to increase the prevalence of such incidents’ (Brimicombe & Cafe, 2012: 32).

Initially, statistics were released by the Home Office which claimed that there was a link during the 2006 World Cup between sporting events, alcohol consumption, and a rise in domestic violence. However, this study was criticised for its validity and rigor by Brimicombe and Cafe, as they argued the study did not use a similar control group to measure against, and the conclusions did not analyse a differentiation between England’s result and a rise in domestic violence cases being reported.

In Brimicombe’s and Cafe’s study these issues were rectified. In fact, they even had two control groups which accounted for the same days of the week over non-Cup years. For example, they note that ‘a peak in June 2000 corresponds with the period of the 200 European Cup; there was no peak in June 2001, a non-Cup year, and summer violence was to close or even below that average for that period’ (Brimicombe & Cafe, 2012: 34).

The results of the study were as follows:

 ‘On days when England drew there was no significant increase in the rate of reported domestic violence. On days when England either won or lost there was a significant increase. These results held whether we compared 2010 match days to 2010 non-match days, or to the 2009 non-tournament year. Whichever of our two control periods we used, we had to come to the same conclusion.’ (Brimicombe & Cafe, 2012: 35).

Furthermore, Brimicombe and Cafe raise the important point of other aggravating factors. ‘If it was not the football, then what was it? We can think of no other event occurring on the Wednesday of England's win and the Sunday of England's exit from the World Cup that would explain these significant increases in the rate of reported domestic violence.’ (Brimicombe & Cafe, 2012: 35).

Sadly, after being confronted with the evidence from multiple studies all reaching the same conclusion, the FA said it would not comment on something which was ‘not a footballing matter’. This blasé response from the FA is exactly what we do not need if we have any hope of seriously tackling this issue. It might not be a footballing matter, but it is a criminal offence that affects many people's lives, and we can all do better in challenging it. Turning the other cheek won’t help anyone, and it certainly won’t help the problem go away.

What can you do?

It is advisable that if you are subject to or witness an act of domestic violence that you call 999 and report it to the police. However, this may not always be an option. There are plenty of other networks that can offer help and support including: Victim Support,  Refuge, Women’s Aid, the Mankind Initiative , and many more.

The National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline  also offers advice on how you can help someone you think could be suffering from domestic violence.

Speaking on this matter, Commander Christine Jones (the senior officer at London Met, responsible for tackling domestic abuse) says ‘my message to victims is: if you feel you cannot tell the police, please tell someone'.

It is important that, for this summer in particular, we all look out for one another and give help and support to those who need it.

Words by Amy Walker

References: Brimicombe, A. & Cafe, R. (2011) .‘Beware, win or lose: Domestic violence and the World Cup’, Significance, 9(5), pp. 32-35.