As England prepares to face Croatia in the World Cup semi-final, police and domestic violence charities will also be preparing for a surge in calls. Reports of domestic violence spike whenever the national team play a World Cup match and the increase occurs regardless of whether England win or lose.
Now, a campaign launched by the National Centre of Domestic Violence aims to raise awareness of the problem, with a series of shocking images titled ‘The Not-So-Beautiful Game’.
The graphic photos show the England flag transformed into blood, scars and bruises, with captions such as “If England gets beaten, so will she”. The posters will be shared across social media and on public billboards.
The campaign highlights how incidents of domestic abuse rise by 38% when the England team loses a World Cup match.
However, previous research has found domestic violence also increases during the tournament regardless of the match result.
When researchers at Lancaster University analysed figures from Lancashire Constabulary across three tournaments in 2002, 2006, and 2010, they found domestic violence rose by 38% when the England team lost. Incidences also increased by 26% when England won or drew compared with days when there was no England match and were also 11% higher the day after an England game.
The problem isn’t confined to the UK, with reported incidents of domestic violence increasing around the world during the tournament. Flags from across the globe are reimagined throughout the series, with both men and women representing victims.
Of course, we must not forget that many cases of domestic violence will go unreported during the tournament. Detective Superintendent Richard Long of West Mercia Police previously told HuffPost UK the average victim will suffer in excess of 50 incidents before they tell anyone, suggesting that official figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
Sue Coleman, chief executive of West Mercia Women’s Aid, also pointed out football doesn’t cause domestic violence, but can be a contributing factor among existing perpetrators.
“Women we help report that the high levels of emotion and frustration that are experienced by those who are avid football supporters during this period, can prove an aggravating factor where their partner’s behaviour can already be volatile and abusive,” she said.
Long added: “The underlying message is that major sporting events don’t cause domestic abuse. Perpetrators are responsible for their own actions.”
- Refuge- Domestic violence help for women and children - 0808 2000 247
- Visit Women’s Aid- support for abused women and children – or call the National Domestic Violence Helpline, run by Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247
- Broken Rainbow- The LGBT domestic violence charity - 0845 2 60 55 60
- Men’s Advice Linefor advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse - 0808 801 0327