As part of Women’s Aid’s Come Together to End Domestic Abuse campaign, the charity is asking everyone to play their part in ending domestic abuse during World Cup and to raise awareness of support services.
While football matches do not cause domestic abuse, factors such as increased alcohol consumption and the high levels of emotion associated with big matches can cause existing domestic abuse to increase in frequency and severity.
This is why Women’s Aid launched the Football United Against Domestic Violence campaign in 2014. Since then, has worked with the football community – from players, clubs, and fans – to unite against the sexist and misogynistic attitudes and behaviour which underpin violence against women.
To support this important work, the charity is launching an ad campaign created by House337, highlighting that domestic abuse can become more frequent or severe during big football tournaments, including the FIFA World Cup.
The tournament takes place in winter for the first time this year when the cold and dark will mean that more fans than usual will choose to stay home to watch the games. For many women, it is a time of fear, where existing domestic violence can increase.
The campaign launches on 25th November, which marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, just after England’s second group game in the World Cup against the US.
Come Together to End Domestic Abuse is a two-year campaign ahead of the charity’s 50th birthday in 2024. The campaign aims to show the difference we can make if we all step together and do what we can to end abuse.
As part of the campaign, Women’s Aid measures public attitudes to show what needs to change. Recent Women’s Aid research found that nearly a quarter (24%) of UK adults believe that there are instances where it is acceptable for sports crowds to sing rude chants about women, the most popular reason being when it’s said as a joke. (12%).
Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid said: “There is a role to play for everyone in helping to end domestic abuse. Raising awareness of the support available during major tournaments like the upcoming World Cup can help many women living with abusive partners. While domestic abuse is not caused by football, we know existing abuse can become more severe or frequent during big tournaments. We ask everyone to help share our posters and adverts at this important time.”
“We know that violence against women is a spectrum, running from sexist jokes and so-called ‘banter’, to violent crimes and murder. Sexist jokes enable a culture where women can be demeaned, controlled, harmed and abused. To help end domestic abuse, we must tackle sexism and misogyny and safely challenge attitudes and comments where we can. On this front, football can have a very powerful and positive role to play.”
Emma, a survivor of domestic abuse, said: “I always dreaded the football season; for my ex, it was another ‘excuse’ to get off his face on cocaine and drink too much. He would tell me it’s what the lads do. For him, it was fun. For me, it was fear. Fear of what mood he would be in when he came home, walking on eggshells, not knowing what abuse was coming next.”
“I remember on our anniversary, I had wanted to celebrate, but Fulham was playing, so he wanted to watch the game. We agreed we would watch it and then go out together to celebrate, but because his team lost, he stayed at the pub getting drunker and drunker while I went home sobbing after being called every name under the sun.”
Charlotte Kneer, chief executive of domestic abuse service I Choose Freedom, said: “Whenever there is a major football tournament, it can be a frightening time for victims of domestic abuse. That hiss of a beer being opened and the crowd chanting can often signify the start of an episode that could end in abuse or even violence.”
“We know that football doesn’t cause abuse; abusers do, but they can use football as an excuse to vent their anger and exert control over their frightened partner. For many women supported in our refuges, football won’t have happy memories, and it’s unlikely the TV’s will be on during the England games.”
Jo Todd, chief executive of Respect, works with perpetrators of domestic abuse: “We know that football doesn’t create new perpetrators, but in relationships where someone is already abusive, it can add a layer of risk and worry for survivors. We want to remind everyone watching the World Cup: you are responsible for your behaviour towards your partner and children daily.”
If you are concerned that your behaviour is scaring, hurting, or controlling your partner, click here.