Football fans only fight when they're winning

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The Independent Online

Losing is rarely a pretty sight - but winning could be even uglier. New research has found that winning an event is a greater trigger for post-match violence than losing.

Losing is rarely a pretty sight - but winning could be even uglier. New research has found that winning an event is a greater trigger for post-match violence than losing.

Researchers examined the number of people requiring medical treatment after an assault during a series of international rugby and football matches in Cardiff.

The findings, published in the journal Injury Prevention, revealed that the number of injuries was significantly higher when Wales won compared with when they lost.

The research, conducted by Cardiff University, examined a seven-year period in relation to accident and emergency assault cases in the city.

During 106 home and away matches - 74 rugby and 32 football - it found that almost 27,000 cases of assault required emergency treatment.

On match day an average of 30 cases of assault required medical attention, with a further 30 the next day. The average number of assaults fell to about 21 when there were no major sporting events in the city.

A relationship emerged betweenthe incidence of casualties and the outcome of the match. When Wales won, the average number of assault injuries soared to 33, compared with25 when Wales lost. The study found that it made little difference whether the match was played at home or away in terms ofthe number of casualties.

The researchers concluded: "These analyses suggest that assault may not be the result of negative factors associated with a national team losing, but the result of a positive event [winning]."

Attempting to identify the reasons behind the apparent correlation between victory and violence, the report highlighted the psychological effects of winning among sporting fans. The link between alcohol consumption among victorious fans and soaring levels of assaults in the aftermath of matches was also noted by researchers.

The study said: "It is possible that levels of self-confidence, assertiveness, or patriotism which may be heightened following a win are important factors."

It added: "Winning prompts celebration, a key component of which is alcohol consumption, and prompts the formation of crowds of intoxicated individuals, making interpersonal physical assertiveness more likely."

The research is not the first occasion that scientists have investigated the link between sporting victory and violence. During the football World Cup, domestic violence against women peaked after England matches with refuges reporting a significant rise in cases.

International research has also confirmed the correlation between victory at sporting events and domestic violence.

The link is becoming increasingly acknowledged, with advertisements warning against domestic violence being broadcast in the US during the Superbowl.