Expert fears World Cup domestic abuse spike

18 November 2022

The fast-approaching FIFA World Cup is likely to lead to a spike in domestic abuse across England and Wales, a leading legal expert has warned.

The tournament kicks off in Qatar on Sunday with England and Wales both starting their campaigns on Monday.

But, while millions of people will be eagerly looking forward to cheering their country on from the sofa or pub, a domestic abuse expert has warned that big tournaments invariably lead to an increase in reports of domestic abuse.

An oft-repeated report showed that domestic violence increases by 38% when the England team lose, peaking around 10 hours after kick-off.

The same study found domestic abuse increases by 26% even after England win or draw.

Karen Gray, a Domestic Abuse expert at respected West Midlands law firm Higgs LLP, said: “The World Cup is an event which brings people and families together, cheering for their team to do well and experiencing the highs and lows of the game.

“Unfortunately, the tension created isn’t limited to the football pitch. For many people who are in abusive relationships, major football competitions can add to their heightened fears and anxiety at the hands of their abusers.

“There are all sorts of things that can play into this and make the abuse worse, including increased drinking, drug taking and gambling addictions.

“It’s important that victims of domestic abuse know they are not alone during the next few weeks.”

The statistic of a 38% incident increase is based on study from 2014, which reported instances of intimate partner violence across three World Cup tournaments.

It is backed by other studies, including statistics from the Metropolitan Police which showed reported domestic abuse incidents rose by more than 14% during the Euro 2020 championship.

Meanwhile, across the UK, 26 police forces logged 96,473 domestic abuse reports during the same tournament, an increase of almost 10% from the 87,778 cases recorded the month before.

Karen added: “Football in itself is not the problem, but for some victims it can exacerbate it. It’s another excuse used by abusers.

“If you are experiencing abuse, we can help. We can speak to you about obtaining protection, such as Non-Molestation Orders or Occupation Orders, in order protect you and enable you to remain in your property. 

“We can also refer you to local outreach services who will listen to you and support you and your children. 

“Don’t suffer in silence. Please make the step and get in touch.”

Karen said Higgs can help with all forms of domestic abuse, including sexual abuse, violent or threatening behaviour, controlling or coercive behaviour, economic abuse, psychological abuse or tech abuse.

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