My father is a huge soccer fan. As you can imagine the World Cup is his absolute favorite time of year. I’m not much of a sporty person myself, but I’ve always had a love for the World Cup (Go Colombia!) because it makes me think of him.
All those warm and fuzzy feelings, however, have begun to melt away as I read this week about preparations in the UK to combat domestic violence that often occurs after soccer games. In fact, a study from Lancaster University which researched incidents of domestic violence during the last three World Cups found that in areas of England and Wales violent incidents increased by 38 percent when England lost and by 26 percent when they won.
What’s more? The study also found that domestic violence incidents increased in frequency from tournament to tournament.
Luckily, police in many areas of the UK are using this research to take steps to prevent violence from escalating during this year’s World Cup games. In Essex, police are taking a multi-pronged approach to tackle the issue. Not only have they scheduled extra patrols during and after England’s first match, but they have also created a list of over 100 high-risk perpetrators who they will be making house visits to during games with a warning not to take out their frustrations on their partners.
Of the police force’s efforts, Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh says:
What we are trying to do is predict some of this. We are taking a forthright approach, we know who the high-risk perpetrators are and we are visiting them to say effectively: We know who you are, we know where you are and we know what you are capable of.
I cannot guarantee we won’t have a tragedy during the World Cup but we are working with victims, targeting perpetrators, working with partners to share information more effectively and try to better protect victims.
In addition to the extra police patrols and home visits, many cities in England have launched their own campaigns to tackle the issue. Essex’s campaign, Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse, features the video below and a call to tweet a picture of your feet to say #NoToDomesticViolence.
In Lancashire, the police have developed their own campaign, The Ugly Consequences of the Beautiful Game, featuring billboards with the slogans, “Leave the striking to the players,” “Blow the whistle on domestic violence,” and “Let’s have no foul play.”
A national domestic violence prevention organization in the UK, Women’s Aid, has also launched a campaign with various football clubs, organizations, players and police. The campaign calls on people to sign their supporter pledge which says:
As a football supporter/player I stand proudly with Football United Against Domestic Violence to speak out:
In it my hope that all these efforts to curtail domestic violence incidents in the UK during the World Cup games will be successful, but I cannot help but be angered by the fact that such preventions are even necessary. The World Cup should be a a time of fun and celebration, but unfortunately the competitiveness and often drinking associated with watching the games creates a dangerous environment for many women. I’m happy to see the UK taking all these measure to protect potential victims while making it clear that violence will not be tolerated.
Photo Credit: IsakFotografi
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