Football tournaments, which are supposed to be entertaining families, actually fuel domestic violence incidents in England and Wales, as noted by various studies. Sports are treated as stimulating activities to mesmerise the eyes while relaxing one’s brain and enacting a happy mood. But this is not a universal trend among people because the way individuals take sporting activities is very different. When one sees a family going to the field attending a football tournament, the assumed idea is that members will enjoy some quality family time and strengthen their bond. Even watching sports together as a family is typical for bonding between family members.
People sacrifice a lot in expressing love for sports teams, like buying the merchandise, following social media pages, wearing the regalia, painting bodies in the team’s colours and even getting a tattoo of their team’s logo. However, specific individuals tend to be emotionally involved in sports and their teams. This is a common occurrence witnessed by loyal fans who pour their hearts into supporting teams. The fanatics go the extra mile of betting for some teams and injecting a lot of money into tournaments. It then becomes hard for a loyal fan to see their team losing, especially in important tournaments such as the World Cup and Olympics. Sports betting is widespread across the globe, and Sports betting companies are now rampant in many nations.
Studies in the UK revealed that domestic violence cases rose during the World Cups where England was involved. Anne-Marie Salwey, Cleveland Police Specialist Crime Superintendent, said, “The World Cup, as with other major sporting events, is often associated with an increase in domestic abuse incidents because of factors such as increased alcohol consumption and an increase in tension” [Source].
This brings out a pertinent issue of how many supporters drink heavily while watching sports and lose control. In other cities, the sporting grounds are known for violence among drunkards, and the situation is worsened by alcoholic beverages companies who sponsor a lot of tournaments. Because of such sponsorship, beer is sold at low prices and given away for free to promote a beer. The combination of ‘alcohol and a losing team’ can make a grown human turn into a mad man due to tensions. During the 2018 Soccer World Cup, the British local police and domestic violence organisations published numerous warnings “for abused and potential abusers”. In gunning support of ending this kind of violence, campaigns such as “Give Domestic Abuse the Red Card” and “Operation Ribbon” were launched.
During the Euro 2020 tournament, domestic abuse cases spiked in England. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) recorded more cases related to protective court orders. According to NCDV reports, 90% of the victims were women, and 10% were men. A victim interviewed said, “I lost count of the times I was assaulted after my ex-husband’s team lost or England lost a match in a tournament” [Source]. Usually, males dominated the fan groups for football, with only a handful of women interested in sports. A 2013 study by Lancaster University suggested that abuse cases increased “by 26 per cent when England won or drew a match, and by 38 per cent when they lost” [Source].
Leonie Chao-Fong penned an article titled “Euros 2020 may be ‘catalyst for domestic violence, charities warn”. He cited reasons that could have prompted people to abuse others and said, “Domestic violence incidents could increase during the UEFA 2020 football tournament as abusers use the coronavirus pandemic and increased emotions and alcohol consumption as an excuse to further their abuse” [Source]. Chao-Fong explained how UK spectators are mostly “intimately associated with increased alcohol consumption, which can exacerbate violent behaviour and perpetrators of domestic abuse are known to use these links as an excuse to further their violence.”
Stress and emotional distress do not always happen on the grounds. Social media is filled with videos of frustrated fans who smash televisions and cell phones when their teams are losing. Anger issues are fuelled when there is a football tournament that can extend to more than 30 or 50 games, and frustration keeps on building for the losing teams’ fans, who have to watch disappointment repeatedly. World Cup events usually last for a month or so, and during these proceedings, everyone will either be glued to their television, in a sports bar or on the ground. When these individuals return home, their mood or attitude is dictated by their team’s performance. If it is a loss, they lash out at the family members or anyone who tries to communicate with them.
From this angle, a football tournament becomes a problem for spectators as it is a period of tension, emotions, aspirations, expectations and huge disappointments. A PhD candidate at the University of Chester, Jodie Swallow, was interviewed by BBC Radio Four’s Thinking Allowed, and he aired out different sentiments on the issue. As a researcher who focused on women’s experiences of domestic violence enacted by significant sporting activities, sports are a gateway for abusers to abuse people. The women who participated in his research argued that “the abuse endured was not limited to sport. However, they identified sport as a means through which their fanatical partners perpetrated” to abuse them [Source]. His research depicted how men who watch sports at home make the place a “sacred place” where females are supposed to follow specific rules of not entering or leaving a room while a game is on. The females would be forced to adhere to these rules or traditions so that a team does not lose, and failure to do so led to violence in the house.
Other organisations concurred with Swallow’s findings and noted how “football itself does not trigger abuse but could compound an abusive partner’s pre-existing behaviour patterns”. Councillor Nesil Caliskan of the Local Government Association propounded that “Football does not cause domestic abuse – the behaviour and actions of abusers who exert power and control over their victims cause it” [Source]. Domestic abuse is witnessed in both England and Wales, linking “England football victories and the recorded increase in alcohol” consumption. In 2018, the Office of National Statistics showed that perpetrators of violent crimes in England and Wales were drunk in 39% of the cases [Source].
Football tournaments cannot be solely blamed for one’s violent nature, but these tournaments act like triggers that ignite anger and stress within a person and cause them to erupt.