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Domestic Abuse and the football effect

by Teelan & Silwal

5 July 2024

I’m not a football fan, but my family is, so when England play, I watch and get into the spirit
of things. Last Sunday’s match against Slovakia in the UEFA European Championships
2024 was no exception. “Yes! Come on Jude!” I cheered after Jude Bellingham scored an
equalising goal with a beautiful, overhead kick in injury time. Even to my untrained eye, that
goal was the stuff of dreams. Harry Kane went on to secure a second goal in extra time,
courtesy of, according to one family member “a perfectly deflected, softly cushioned, header
from Ivan Toney, placed back into the perfect area for Harry Kane to score.”

In the post-match interviews, Harry Kane described the game as a “crazy game of
Indeed, it was and will no doubt continue to be. The emotion was plain to see
on the faces of the England players, on the fans in the AufSchalke Stadium and would have
been visible across pubs, bars and living rooms across the land on Sunday night too.

But despite the jubilation of watching your home team win and celebrating that win in a
positive way, for a small minority of people there lies a darker, more sinister side to the
beautiful game and the outcome of a match. One which causes physical and emotional
suffering. I am of course referring to domestic abuse.

Let’s be clear. Football does not cause domestic abuse. But watching football, whether the
team wins or loses, can trigger existing abusive behaviour.

Assistant Commissioner Louisa Rolfe, the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Domestic
Abuse, said “we’ve seen, over many years, offending associated with alcohol consumption,
violence and other destructive behaviours exhibited by a small number of fans and the
intense emotional highs and lows of a tournament, all of which can act as a catalyst for preexisting abuse.”

The National Centre for Domestic Violence (“NCDV”)1 highlights statistics relating to
domestic abuse, which make for shocking reading. Those figures state that 2.4 million
adults were victims (1.7 million women and 699,000 men) and that the police recorded
1,500,369 domestic abuse-related incidents and crimes in England and Wales in the year
ending March 2022.

However, research from Lancaster University2 in relation to football and the impact upon
those statistics shows that incidents of domestic abuse increased by 38 percent if England
lost and increased by 26 percent if England won or drew the match.

That is why the National Police Chiefs’ Council3 has developed a national policing strategy to
help combat the expected rise in domestic abuse during the current UEFA European
Championships. The policy “outlines the need for a proactive, multi-agency approach to
safeguard victims and pursue perpetrators.”

Women’s Aid have also launched their “No More Years of Hurt” campaign4 to highlight the
increase in domestic abuse during football tournaments.

Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid said, “It is a sad reality that 1 in 4 women will
experience domestic abuse during their lifetime and it is vital that we, across society, are
aware of when these dangers might increase and be on hand to help survivors escape and
hold perpetrators accountable. We are pleased to be working with the National Police Chiefs’
Council to raise awareness of this vital issue and come together to make sure women and
children are safe throughout the UEFA Euro 2024 championship.”

By my very rough calculations based upon figures from NCDV, if there were 1,500,369
police recorded incidents in year ending March 2022, that is on average 4,110 reported
incidents each and every day. Based upon those figures, if England loses a match, that
number can increase by an additional 1,561 incidents. If England wins or draws a match,
then the increase is an additional 1,068 incidents. I am not a statistician and no doubt there
are flaws in my basic calculations, but the point is clear is to see. Monday morning, following
England’s win, the police could expect a 26 percent increase in domestic abuse: an
additional 1,068 incidents.

If England manages to get all the way to the Final on 14 July 2024, they will need to win two
more games. The police are expecting a 26 percent increase in domestic abuse for each
and every game. That is an additional 2,136 incidents of domestic abuse. If they lose to
Switzerland in their next game on 6 July 2024, then the police can expect domestic abuse
incidents to increase by 38 percent; an additional 1,561 incidents.

Domestic abuse is appalling. Those figures are appalling. The correlation between an
increase in domestic abuse incidents and football tournaments is appalling.

The message is clear. If you are suffering at the hands of domestic abuse, or you know or
suspect that someone is suffering domestic abuse, the please seek help either from the
police or from a support service.

If you would like any advice in relation to domestic abuse and how the law can help to
protect you, then please contact

1 Domestic Abuse Statistics UK • NCDV
2 Kirby, S., Francis, B., & O’Flaherty, R. (2014). Can the FIFA World Cup Football (Soccer) Tournament Be
Associated with an Increase in Domestic Abuse? Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 51(3),
3 Police to target domestic abusers during Euros (
4 Women’s Aid launches ‘No More Years of Hurt’ campaign highlighting the spike in domestic abuse during big football games – Women’s Aid (

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