Report investigates football’s relationship to domestic abuse



A report, published today by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research (SCCJR), highlights a correlation between the occurrence of certain football matches and increased reports of domestic abuse.

The report, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by academics at the University of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian University, found an increase in recorded domestic violence incidents on the day that football matches were played. Researchers stress that the reasons for this correlation are not yet fully understood and call for more work to be done in the area.

Understanding domestic abuse and how to tackle it is a key priority for the Scottish Government and its partners. Domestic abuse continues to be a serious and persistent social problem rooted in gendered inequalities. To tackle domestic abuse, we must understand any factors that may contribute to it.

The report, which reviewed existing research findings gathered over the last 25 years, suggests that the link between domestic violence and football may exist due to their shared association between particular forms of masculinity, violence, sexism, and alcohol consumption. However, caution should be exercised in the interpretations of research findings, in that correlation should not be interpreted as causation. While recent studies demonstrate that reports of domestic abuse do increase when high profile football matches take place, it is too simplistic to then suggest that football causes domestic abuse.

The researchers from the SCCJR identified that there are relatively few studies in the Scottish and wider UK context that specifically address the relationship between football and domestic abuse. They recommend further qualitative research to investigate the experiences of victims and survivors of domestic violence as well as perpetrators and practitioners working in the area.

Dr Oona Brooks said “Domestic abuse is a pattern of controlling behaviour rather than a discreet incident; linking its occurrence to a particular football match or sporting event may simply reinforce the idea that it is an infrequent act, triggered only at these times. Further research on these issues would benefit from locating domestic abuse within an ongoing pattern of abusive behaviour.”

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: “I welcome the findings of this report which give us a clearer picture of the complex relationship between football and domestic abuse.

“The Scottish Government is absolutely clear that there is no excuse and no place for domestic abuse in Scotland and only this week announced our plans to consult on a specific domestic abuse offence. We know the misery this crime can bring and are determined to end the suffering of victims across Scotland. In the meantime our enforcement agencies will continue to track down offenders and use the full force of the law to bring them to justice.

“Clearly, combatting domestic abuse requires a range of actions to tackle this unacceptable behaviour. The Scottish Government is investing £34.5 million in funding between 2012 and 2015 to support a range of initiatives and services to support those who have experienced or been affected by domestic abuse and other forms of violence.”

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