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28th Nov 2022

Domestic violence in the UK rises when England loses a football match – let’s talk about it

Ellen Fitzpatrick


As the World Cup is in full force, there have been many controversies to follow. With the main one being that the championship is being held in Qatar, there are other less spoken-about issues surrounding the competition.

There are countless human rights violations that come with the World Cup being held in Qatar and we’ve seen almost every single one being pointed out over the past few weeks.

The issue we’re going talk about when it comes to football is a statistic that shook me to my core when I first heard it during the Euros last year and has stuck with me since.

Domestic violence in the UK rises every time England loses a football match, and as terrifying as it sounds, there needs to be a bigger conversation about it.

When the English men’s team lost at the European finals in 2021, a slew of hateful actions took place. There were racist outbursts from fans at the players of colour who missed penalties and then a wave of domestic violence followed.

According to Full Fact, domestic violence in the UK rises by 38% when England loses a match. Doing a fact check on the claim, they said: “A 2014 study found the number of domestic abuse incidents reported to police in Lancashire increased by 38% when England lost a match compared to when they weren’t playing. It was 26% higher if England won or there was a draw.”

Even when they win a match, it still rises. There have been ads projecting this message in the lead up to the world cup, with the most notable one reading: “Nobody wants England to win more than women.”

A TV advert from Women’s Aid was put out for the first time during this year’s World Cup during the England V USA match on Friday, and while anyone who commits domestic violence is responsible regardless of the sport they watch, the culture around football is a concern.

It has been estimated that one in five women have experienced unwanted physical attention while watching men’s football, the Football Supporters’ Association found while the same survey saw that 24% of women attending these matches heard sexist chants.

44% of women at these matches said they were told they knew a lot about football “for a girl” while 26% were told they only liked football because they fancied the players.

We’ve seen from TikTok over the last month that the chants claim is true, England fans have been posting their reactions to USA chants and comparing their own, which often end in sexist remarks being made.

While England fans are slagging off the Americans for their so called cringey chants, many fail to recognise that theirs spark fear among women.

For me personally, I used to be huge into football when I was around 10. Slowly, I stopped liking the sport and once I was old enough to understand the sexism that came alongside it, I point blank refused to support it.

Football fans can come across as aggressive when attending matches, whether it’s in the UK or here at home. We’ve seen it after Sean Cox attended a Liverpool match in 2018 and was attacked unprovoked. 381,000,000 results show when you Google “man beaten after football match.”

Players are verbally abused when they miss goals or penalties, they see a lot of backlash and opposing teams are certainly not friends once the clock hits 90 minutes.

This is something we simply don’t see in other sports. Take rugby for example, when a match is lost, fans are slightly bitter but not aggressive. Opposing fans will have a pint after together and say hard luck. Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh players even go on to play together for the Lions. This is something that simply could never happen in football.

When you’re watching the next World Cup match, think of the women at home worried about the result, dreading what might be coming next.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, support is available. Women’s Aid’s 24hr National Freephone Helpline can be reached on 1800 341 900. Other resources can be found on their website right here.

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