Researchers tackle links between football and domestic abuse

16 February 2015

Researchers and stakeholders will establish if there are links between football and domestic violence

Researchers and stakeholders will establish if there are links between football and domestic violence

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) has received new funding for a feasibility study analysing the correlation between football and domestic abuse in England and Scotland.

The four-month project has received funding of £23,000 from the Sir Halley Stewart Trust, a charity which supports projects which have a focus on the prevention of human suffering, including those concerned with the family and social aspects of unemployment and crime.

Dr Nancy Lombard, Reader in Sociology and Social Policy at GCU, is collaborating with researchers from the Universities of Glasgow and Bristol, Dr Oona Brooks and Dr Emma Williamson.

This feasibility study will involve consultations with the relevant key stakeholders - research networks, football clubs, police, community liaison officers, victims and domestic violence support groups - to develop a robust programme of research which builds upon, and meets the needs of, those responsible for tackling the possible links between football and domestic abuse, and the needs of women who experience it.

The project aims to ascertain the key concerns of the specialist domestic violence and abuse sector to establish if women are seeking help for domestic abuse following football matches. The team will explore perspectives of practitioners and victims in relation to the impact of football on their experiences, and will work with stakeholders to develop additional research proposals.   

Dr Lombard said: “The proposed feasibility study is innovative, original and seeks to further knowledge of a real-life problem, that of the global phenomenon of men’s violence against women.  This research will be the first in-depth investigation into the apparent links between football and rising incidents and reports of domestic violence and abuse. I am very excited to be a part of it.”

The funding follows a literature review by Drs Brooks and Lombard, which found an increase in recorded domestic violence incidents on the day that football matches were played.

Commissioned by the Scottish Government, the report reviewed existing research findings gathered over the last 25 years, and suggested 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.

Understanding this relationship will be an important step in identifying effective measures to address the problem of domestic abuse, and will inform the development of the Scottish Government’s strategic approach to tackling violence against women for the period 2015 - 2020.