Reports of domestic violence and abuse (DVA) increase by 38% when England lose a football match, according to a study… but blaming football is only half the story.

The 2013 study looked at monthly and daily domestic abuse incidents reported to the police and found that there was a 38% increase when England lost and a 26% increase when England won or drew. This summer, Pathway Project, a domestic abuse charity, started a campaign based upon these figures which quickly went viral reaching over 3 million people. This undoubtedly succeeded in starting a much needed conversation about DVA. It has provided an opportunity to talk.

However, the campaign also received a lot of criticism. A recent UK study has indicated that scapegoating football as a trigger for domestic violence risks trivialising the issue and may offer abusers an excuse for their behaviour.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid has said the organisation is keen to press that football does not cause domestic violence and that it is the abusers alone who do so, but also says that, “the sexist attitudes, chants and behaviour at football matches encourage an environment in which women are belittled and demeaned.”

The new study has found that previous claims were not based on reliable data, over-simplifying the issue and failing to recognise abuse is a pattern of ongoing behaviour. There are many factors to be understood surrounding the contested and complex relationship between football and DVA, including the role of contributory and confounding factors such as alcohol, match expectations, masculinity, entitlement and permissions. DVA support groups also stress that abusive behaviour is about power and control and the contributing factors are complex.

According to stakeholders, however, as the UK’s national sport football has a responsibility to raise awareness of domestic abuse in the same way that clubs support campaigns against other issues such as racism and homophobia.

Myerson acts for respondents in domestic abuse cases. If you require advice domestic violence and abuse or any other family law matter, you can contact one of our specialist family law solicitors on 0161 941 4000 or email us at lawyers@myerson.co.uk. Based in Altrincham, Cheshire we are easily accessible for clients who live in the surrounding areas including Warrington, Macclesfield, Hale, Bowdon, Lymm, Knutsford, Alderley Edge, Wilmslow and Prestbury.