Ahead of the World Cup, MEPs are definitely supporting different teams, but there is one goal that unites us - whether our sides win, lose or draw, we all want to end domestic violence.
According to the charity White Ribbon, sadly, domestic violence increases during the World Cup. The most detailed research into the links between the football World Cup and domestic abuse rates showed that in one force area in England and Wales, violent incidents increased by 38% when England lost – but also rose by 26% when they won.
This is not just a British problem. In 2014 an Italian man murdered his wife and two children before his team’s opening game against England, and tried to pass it off as a violent burglary. Studies into other sports, including rugby and American football, have also shown links to rises in domestic assaults.
Three European countries (Belgium, Croatia, and the Czech Republic) have specific measures focusing on gender-based violence in sport in their national action plans for gender equality or for combatting gender-based violence.
One factor is increased alcohol consumption. While it is vital to be clear that alcohol does not directly cause domestic violence and many abusers are violent without the use of alcohol, a study of 336 convicted offenders of domestic violence, found that alcohol was a feature in 62% of offences and 48% of offenders were alcohol dependent.
More has to be done to tackle domestic violence, but austerity has taken its toll on services that should help prevent such abuses and protect vulnerable women. Local authorities have had their grants from central government cut by almost 30% and over three quarters of councils have reduced the amount they spend on women’s refuges since 2010.
The Government should also commit to tackling domestic violence all year round and we eagerly await the Government’s draft Domestic Abuse Bill, due to be published in the coming months.
With the Three Lions preparing for kick off, White Ribbon are mobilising all football fans, to call full time on the scourge of domestic violence.