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Dark side of World Cups: Levels of domestic abuse increase when England lose a game

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Ahead of the semifinals match, the UK’s National Centre for Domestic Violence launched a new campaign to raise awareness of domestic abuse after a football game.

Its leading title being, 'If England gets beaten, so will she.'

Statistics after the England World Cup games in 2002, 2006, and 2010 show that domestic abuse in the past has risen by 38% when England have lost. Domestic violence also increased by 26% just when a match is being played.

Feminist author and Public Speaker Mona Eltahaway tweeted about the campaign on the 11th of July ahead of the game. She drew attention to the other countries now adopting the picture campaign.

Users responded to the thread critically. They claimed that it was not right to name football as a cause for domestic violence.

However, this campaign has not been engineered to point the finger at the sport, but rather in the aftermath of the alcohol consumption it may cause.

Elle Magazine shared the story of a girl named only as ‘Lucy’, who along with her autistic 8-year-old brother, suffered abuse at the hands of their father after England’s defeat by Portugal in 2006. She was only 10 years old. After the match, her father went to the pub and returned hours later, directing his anger at his children.

The most shocking thing about this case is the questions Lucy still asks. Why did nobody ever help? The shouting and crying must have been audible for their neighbours; and yet they did nothing.

'All of my injuries healed eventually but I often feel like the emotional scars never will.'

'Categorically, football does not cause domestic abuse, the behaviour and actions of abusers who exert power and control over their victims cause domestic abuse,' commented Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid.

'However, domestic abuse does not happen in a cultural vacuum. The sexist attitudes, chants and behaviour at football matches encourage an environment in which women are belittled and demeaned.'

Image by Pathway Project

What the National Centre for Domestic Violence is trying to do is to raise awareness of the behaviour that sometimes follows these matches. It is not to say that all football supporters act this way. Most of them don’t. But sadly the reality is that a small portion do, and their behaviour still affects thousands of people today.

This can be seen as an opportunity to raise awareness, not just in the aftermath of a football match, but in general behaviour towards others as a result of all sports and the anger, it can sometimes produce. So be aware, and if there is a situation where a person is at risk and needs help, give it, you could make a big difference. This is why Lucy shared her story, in the hope that others might be helped or have the courage to speak out.  Let’s stop this pattern and speak out against domestic abuse.

What to do if you think someone may be experiencing domestic abuse

The 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline offers advice, along with their website, detailing ways in which you might be able to help if you suspect abuse. 

The NSPCC deals with abuse directed at children. Their helpline is available 24/7 0808 800 5000

Featured image courtesy of National Centre for Domestic Violence UK

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