Euro 2020: Warning over spikes in domestic abuse during England matches

Abuse surged by 38% when England lost in previous World Cups

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
Saturday 12 June 2021 01:06 BST
Domestic abuse has soared during the public health crisis as lockdown measures have trapped victims indoors with their perpetrators
Domestic abuse has soared during the public health crisis as lockdown measures have trapped victims indoors with their perpetrators (In Pictures/Getty)

Local councils have issued a stark warning about domestic abuse which signposts victims to support services as the Euro 2020 kicks off.

Leading domestic abuse charities said football itself did not trigger abuse but could compound an abusive partner’s pre-existing patterns of behaviour.

Research found the number of domestic abuse cases reported to Lancashire police force in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups surged by 38 per cent on the days when England lost. While incidents increased by 26 per cent when the team either won or drew a match.

Councillor Nesil Caliskan, of the Local Government Association, which is part of the campaign, said: “Football does not cause domestic abuse - the behaviour and actions of abusers who exert power and control over their victims cause it.

“However, with research showing a clear link between football tournaments and rising instances of domestic abuse, there is a need to ensure people are aware of the potential signs of domestic abuse and where to go to report it or seek help.”

Euros 2020, one of the biggest world sporting events, stretches until Sunday 11 July when the final will be held at Wembley Stadium in London.

Ruth Davison, chief executive of Refuge, which is the UK's largest provider of shelters for domestic abuse victims, said: “As the Euros start, our message to people experiencing domestic abuse remains clear: You are not alone, Refuge is here for you.

“While of course football tournaments do not cause abuse - abuse is a choice a perpetrator makes - they can exacerbate pre-existing abusive behaviours.

“Abuse doesn't come 'by appointment' - it happens all your round. But Refuge does want to reassure women that 365 days a year, come rain or shine, we are here for you, and can offer you the support you need.”

A woman is killed by a current or ex-partner every four days in England and Wales, while one in four women will suffer domestic abuse at some point during their lives.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, urged victims to ring 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency.

Domestic abuse has soared during the public health crisis as lockdown measures have trapped victims indoors with their perpetrators and inflamed pre-existing patterns of abuse.

The national domestic abuse hotline saw a 65 per cent increase in calls during the first lockdown last year, while research by Women’s Aid discovered one in seven victims currently enduring abuse at the hands of their partners said it had got worse in the wake of the pandemic.

Teresa Parker, of Women’s Aid, a leading domestic abuse charity, said: “While football doesn't cause domestic abuse, big matches can be a catalyst for an uplift in reports, and an exacerbation of existing abuse.

“That is why we developed the Football United Against Domestic Violence campaign in 2014, and we have worked closely with football clubs and organisations since then to raise awareness of both domestic abuse and the sexist attitudes that underpin it.

“Throughout the Euros we have a Football United poster which signposts to support, which we are asking people to download and share, to help raise lifesaving awareness of the help and information that is available.“

Anyone who requires help or support can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which is open 24/7 365 days per year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website

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