Sports Fans Lash Out

Domestic violence during the World Cup increases when teams win or lose

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Team spirit is one thing. Getting into angry rages and fights over a sporting event is another. What happens when fandom goes too far?

In the UK, domestic violence increased 30 percent on average each time England won or lost their games during the 2010 World Cup, a new study has found.

"Support your team without getting into a fight."

The study, led by statistician Allan Brimicombe, PhD, professor at the Centre for Geo-Information Studies at the University of East London, and BBC News journalist Rebecca Cafe, aimed to see whether older studies on domestic violence were true, as had been reported during the 2006 World Cup.

The research aimed to test the validity of an analysis carried out by the Home Office that showed that domestic violence had risen during the 2006 World Cup.

“Major sporting events do not cause domestic violence, as perpetrators are responsible for their actions,” said the analysis, “but the levels of alcohol consumption linked to the highly charged emotional nature of those events seems to increase the prevalence of such incidents.”

They gathered reports from 33 of the 39 police forces in the UK, which covers almost 80 percent of the country's population.

They found domestic violence rose by 27.7 percent when England won its game against Slovenia 1-0.

“Domestic violence is widespread, accounting for 15 percent of all violent crimes and 35 percent of murders in the UK,” Dr. Brimicombe said.

“It is a crime that is estimated to affect some 30 percent of women and 17 percent of men at some point in their lives.”

England’s loss 4-1 to Germany, closing the door to the World Cup, was accompanied by a 31.5 percent rise in domestic violence.

Event organizers should promote policies that combat domestic violence, Dr. Brimicombe said. Police forces should also prepare themselves for peaks in violence around major sporting events.

“I hope the findings will encourage improved education around the links between major sporting events and peaks in domestic violence and greater awareness of the risk," he said.

The research links domestic violence levels with national soccer matches, the authors said, but only if the game results in a definite win or loss.

“The percentage differences we found are so great that we believe we have established a strong case for linking wins and losses, but not draws, to increased domestic violence.

The study was published in the October issue of Significance by The Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 14, 2012
Last Updated:
October 16, 2012