Football and the rise of domestic violence

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2019 National Women's Conference
24 October 2018

Football is part of our national culture, none more so than when the World Cup is played and our four great nations are entered in to the play offs. Yet each year our police forces prepare around the rise of domestic abuse and violence as the statistics have shown.

Football in its self is only one of the factors along with access to alcohol amongst others and of course an abusive person, but evidence is clear, when a football team loses, domestic violence increases. Previous figures have shown that domestic violence occurrences rose by around 38% on the days when England lost, and 26% when the team won or drew a match. As a Union with over 80% women and domestic abuse strategies at the core of our policies and with many of us avid supporters of our local teams and our national ones, we as women will have someone within our family structures who attend football matches or attend local venues where they are being shown.

Here in the Northern region we have approached Show Racism the Red Card to work with our network and the region on engaging with local clubs at all levels both male and female as well as children’s clubs to raise awareness of domestic abuse. While football is part and parcel of our communities along with other sports, for some reason football incites levels of abuse and violence not seen with any other sport. The network has previously agreed to working with the White Ribbon campaign on why we need to include and get men to stand up and call out on domestic abuse as no one should be a victim to abuse and violence in any field of their lives.

Since 2014 the Football United Against Domestic Violence campaign has worked with FA, Premier League and BT Sport to stand together against domestic abuse and call out the sexists attitudes and behaviour some fans exhibit. Many forces have joined “Give Domestic Abuse The Red Card Campaign “ with Women’s aid working with clubs and broadcasters.

Some studies have found the increase in violent offending relates to the outcome of the game for example, winning has been attributed to an increase in assertiveness, patriotism and alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a feature of both Spectatorship and sponsorship and identified as a contributory factor in domestic abuse. Links to research reports an increase in domestic abuse at the time football matches occurs and shows a reflected increase on weekend matches.

Research from Glasgow Caledonian university and Bristol University, highlighted that other studies had “over simplified “ the issue of domestic violence discounting such a large number of men who watch the sport and increase in policing on match days

They believe more emphasis should be done to promote the whole anti –violence message through sport and football clubs by them highlighting the issue of domestic abuse and violence.

Conference more needs to be done as the last research came from 2014 and Scotland have done work relating to this issue, but all of our devolved nations as a collective one pronged approach surely would be more productive.

This is not only a women’s issue but a UNISON one too. It is about being involved in raising awareness and being champions of domestic abuse that occurs within sports and football on and off the pitch.

We acknowledge football doesn’t cause domestic abuse and that women are not only the victims of domestic abuse but they are the majority, and the behaviours and actions of the abuser who exert their power and control over victims is often under estimated in the football and sporting world.

So let’s get behind this and kick all forms of violence out of football and all sports.

We as the national women’s committee to:

• Work through their affiliation to Women’s aid and Show Racism Red card to raise a UNISON campaign jointly

• Work with LAOS to look at producing a training programme that inter-links all levels of violence together

• Work with NEC, Labour Link and branches to enquire on the benefits about sponsorship’s into sports and the influence the sponsorship can take in relation to combating and raising the awareness of violence against women.

• Work with the NEC to look at the possibility of commissioning up to date research into the links between sports and domestic violence.