Domestic violence spikes after major sporting events -- UK study

A British study researched the link between sports and booze, and whether it had an effect on...

A British study researched the link between sports and booze, and whether it had an effect on increasing the prevalence of domestic violence. (Stevo Vasiljevic/Reuters/Files)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 PM ET

Domestic violence increases after major sporting events, according to a new British study that looked at data from before and after the 2010 World Cup.

A BBC journalist and a statistician aimed to test a U.K. Home Office report issued after the 2006 soccer tournament that found a link between sports, booze and domestic violence.

"Major sporting events do not cause domestic violence, as perpetrators are responsible for their actions," the Home Office report said. "But the levels of alcohol consumption linked to the highly charged emotional nature of those events seems to increase the prevalence of such incidents."

Using Britain's Freedom of Information Act to obtain police reports on domestic violence, the BBC's Rebecca Cafe and Prof. Allan Brimicombe of the University of East London compared the stats with England's match wins, losses and ties at the 2010 tournament.

What they found: when England lost 4-1 to Germany, domestic violence rose by 31.5%. But a few days earlier, when England defeated Slovenia, domestic violence also rose, by 27.7%.

The researchers were surprised to find what happened in the case of a draw: when England tied Slovenia, incidences of violence increased by 0.1%, and when England tied the U.S., the domestic violence rate dropped by 1.9%.

"One might have thought that a draw would heighten frustration, which might be taken out on partners; psychologists would have to tell us if instead it flattens emotion to a more apathetic state," the researchers said.

In their conclusion, they only partly agree with the report from the Home Office, the lead government department for immigration, counter-terrorism and policing.

"It is not that football tournaments cause the violence, but rather that the excitement, disappointment and flow of adrenalin resulting from watching a national team play may exacerbate existing tensions within a relationship and result in lost tempers and violence or abuse," they said. "Such behaviour may be made worse or more likely when alcohol has been consumed."

The study appears this week in Significance, a journal of the Royal Statistical Society.


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