The LGA and Women’s Aid are coming together to raise awareness about domestic abuse ahead of the World Cup with police forces often seeing a rise in referrals on cases of domestic abuse during previous tournaments.
Studies have found that incidents of domestic abuse rose by 38 per cent when the England team played and lost when compared with the days that England did not play. Research into the link between domestic abuse and football shows that although there is an increase in incidents of domestic abuse following football matches, football does not cause domestic abuse.
The Three Lions kick-off their World Cup campaign in Russia with a game against Tunisia in Volgograd on Monday.
Studies conducted by the National Centre for Domestic Violence, the National Police Chiefs Council and the BBC revealed that during the 2010 World Cup cases of domestic violence rose by an average of 25 per cent after an England match, win, lose or draw.
Council leaders are supporting Women’s Aid campaign “Football United Against Domestic Violence” which calls on the footballing community to make a positive difference to raise awareness and reduce the amount of domestic abuse now and in the future, by signing up to the club pledge.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board said:
“Domestic abuse is a horrendous crime, which can have a long-term and devastating impact on families, particularly children. It can happen to anyone in all relationships, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity.
“While the vast majority of those watching football games are not in any way involved in domestic abuse, there is a small minority who will become more violent and put others at risk during this time.
“It is particularly important we tackle domestic abuse head on, because so many children and young people will be looking to footballers as role models, especially during the World Cup. This is a good opportunity to help teach younger people about healthy relationships and how to treat one another with respect.
“Reducing domestic abuse over the longer term also means looking at what younger people are taught about relationships. This must include what children and young people are watching online and the impact this is having on their views about appropriate behaviour in a relationship.
“We would urge support football clubs and the sporting community to sign up to Women’s Aid club pledge and to help raise awareness of this important issue.”
Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, said:
"As part of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement, we’ve seen a challenge to the prevailing sexist attitudes and behaviours in parts of our culture and society. Sexism and misogyny underpin violence against women and girls. These damaging attitudes are rife in our society; football is no exception.
“Since 2014, our Football United Against Domestic Violence campaign has worked with football clubs, the FA, the Premier League and BT Sport to stand together against domestic abuse and call out the sexist attitudes and behaviour that some fans still exhibit.
“Categorically, football does not cause domestic abuse, the behaviour and actions of abusers who exert power and control over their victims cause domestic abuse. However, domestic abuse does not happen in a cultural vacuum. The sexist attitudes, chants and behaviour at football matches encourage an environment in which women are belittled and demeaned.
“Football is part of our national culture, enjoyed by millions of men, women and children every week. The World Cup is a time when supporters from all clubs come together in support of their national team. That’s why we’re calling for the football community to stand united against domestic abuse and sexism this World Cup. Together, we can send out the powerful message that domestic abuse is always unacceptable and that there is no place for violence in football whether on or off the pitch.”
If you are worried about your relationship or that of a friend or family member, you can contact the Freephone 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline, run in partnership between Women’s Aid and Refuge, on 0808 2000 247 or visit www.womensaid.org.uk
Some immediate options may be to:
* Report the domestic abuse to police
* Leave home temporarily, or permanently
* Stay in your home and get the person who is harming you to leave
Most police forces have Domestic Violence Units or Community Safety Units with specially trained officers to deal with domestic violence and abuse.
You should call 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non-emergency or you can attend a police station in person to report an incident.
Women's Aid can help victims contact an independent domestic violence adviser or a solicitor who is experienced in family law. There are a number of other domestic violence charities, including Refuge, Relate and Mankind which offer advice and support for domestic violence victims.