Fears domestic abuse cases will increase as England head to the Euros

A Leeds based domestic violence charity has spoken of its fears that cases will increase throughout the course of the Euro 2020 tournament which kicks off today.

It comes following several studies and reports which have found links between football events and domestic abuse.

The concerns of Leeds based, Inspire North, have been exacerbated by the potential lifting of lockdown restrictions, both later this month and the latter stages of the tournament - which was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson for Inspire North said: "There are reports that show the increase that takes place when England are playing and even if they win or not, there is still an increase in domestic abuse. Part of that has to do with alcohol and it is men. We know there are male victims of domestic abuse, but, in this instance it is male perpetrators and female victims."

Academic studies have revealed a link between football tournaments and incidents of domestic violence.

One study by the London School of Political Economics and Science focused ten years worth of crime data from the country's second largest police force in England, West Midlands Police and English national football team matches (World Cups and UEFA Euro Championships) in this period.

It revealed a 47 per cent increase in the number of reported alcohol-related domestic abuse cases on days when the England team wins in these tournaments, and an 18 per cent increase on days after an England match.

The data also reveal that the increase mostly stems from male-to-female alcohol-related domestic abuse cases (overall 78 per cent of domestic abuse cases in the dataset involve a male perpetrator and a female victim).

When asking the question why football can have effect on domestic abuse, an article in the "Social Science and Medicine" journal suggested that while domestic violence is usually part of a long standing pattern, football does create an environment where it is more likely to occur.

The report reads: "England's participation in these tournaments are times of heightened patriotic emotions and a strengthened sense of “Englishness”, fuelled by media narratives that often use war references, and an “us vs. them” rhetoric to generate and represent an English national identity. Previous qualitative research has suggested that televised contact sports can serve as vehicle for the male sports fan to redefine, and express his masculinity in a way that allows dominance, control, and can ultimately manifest in the perpetration of domestic abuse."

Inspire North, which has seen an increase in referrals for emergency help throughout the pandemic, says that this spike also happens in conjunction with the lifting of restrictions for various reasons and depending upon forthcoming government announcements on that, and the tournament - it could create the perfect storm.

"With this tournament we are potentially heading towards the end of lockdown and more freedoms. Everytime there has been a lifting of restrictions we have seen an increase of referrals. If England do well throughout this tournament, and they tend to pass through the group stages, that will potentially clash with easing of restrictions even more. We are concerned that these two things happening simultaneously will cause a further increase in domestic abuse incidents.

"People can go out, they can have a drink, gather together. Maybe a partner has been home all day waiting for them to come home, they have had to care for the kids or been working, the partner comes back drunk, arguments start and the violence is a consequence of that happening."

Further research, by academics at Lancaster University also found that reported domestic abuse incidents increased in frequency with each new tournament, from an average of 64 in 2002 rising to 99 in 2010.

Inspire North added that in areas it protects women, the police are stepping up patrols in places where they know there are vulnerable women.

They added: "Police are increasing patrol cars and taking domestic abuse workers out in the car with them to talk to victims. The police are also expecting am increase."