Link between football and domestic violence is a myth

Old firm web

Academics have said football is often used as an excuse for unacceptable behaviour, with abuse often ongoing in nature

7th August 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Links between football and domestic violence are a myth, academics have claimed.

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University have said assertions that men are more likely to abuse their partners after big matches are misleading.

A UK-study carried out found the data behind reports linking a spike in cases to Old Firm results or the outcome of England World Cup games was often thin.

Experts have stressed the ongoing nature of abusive behaviour, and that football is often used as a scapegoat for unacceptable behaviour.

Brenna Jessie, of Scottish Women’s Aid, said domestic abuse does not end when the football season is over.

She said: "The urge to pin domestic abuse on alcohol, football, the weather, faith – basically anything other than the abuser – has been a frustration of ours for a really long time.

"For as long as we do this we’re not holding anything or anyone to account in any real or meaningful way. The person responsible for abusing their power and their (ex) partner is the perpetrator, and all eyes should be on them."

Glasgow Caledonian University’s Dr Nancy Lombard said: “All stakeholders had concerns about the reliability and implications of data suggesting a causal link between football and domestic violence and abuse.

“Participants highlighted concerns about the existing evidence and the need to view violence and abuse as a pattern of ongoing behaviour, which cannot be reduced to an incident associated with a particular event such as a football match.

“Specialist domestic violence and abuse service providers were concerned that focusing on football masks the underlying causes and potentially offers perpetrators excuses for their abusive behaviour."

The results of focus groups and one-to-one interviews with police, support groups and football authorities were conducted in Scotland and England for the study, have been published in the Journal of Gender-Based Violence.

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government announced that the Caledonian System is set to be extended. The system aims to improve the lives of the women and children affected by domestic abuse by getting perpetrators to face up to the consequences of their actions.

A total of £2.8 million in the latest round will double the programme's potential capacity to reach offenders.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “It is a priority for the Scottish Government to tackle violence against women and expand pioneering initiatives, like the Caledonian System, which combines a robust programme for male offenders, aimed at changing their behaviour, with a focus on reducing the risk of harm to women and children.

"Funding to expand the availability of the Caledonian System is one of the measures we have put in place to protect victims and hold perpetrators to account, including strengthening the law and passing the Domestic Abuse Act earlier this year.”