England’s obsession with football can often be dark and troubling. For all the joyous expression of sporting passion that flows down from the stands on a given Saturday across the country, England’s football-mad populace can struggle to find outlets for their energies. Though rampant hooliganism is mostly a thing of the past, other, perhaps more troubling connections between football and violence still crop up. One such connection is that between the fortunes of the England national team and violence of the domestic kind.
According to a study released in the October issue of Significance, the magazine of The Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association, police departments across the country reported sharp spikes in incidents of domestic violence in the aftermath of an England win or loss. A draw had little impact on the statistics.
Professor Alan Brimicombe from the University of East London authored the study, which pulled data from 33 of the 39 police departments operating in England during the period of the 2010 World Cup.
When England beat Slovenia 1-0 in group played, domestic violence reports rose 27.7 percent. When England lost to Germany in the Round of 16, reports jumped 31.5 percent. A draw with the USA actually showed a small decrease of 1.9 percent.
“Our research shows that increased levels of domestic violence are associated with national football matches, but only if there is a definite win or lose result,” Professor Brimicombe said.
“The percentage differences that we found are so great that we believe we have established a strong case for linking wins and losses, but not draws, to increased domestic violence.”
“I hope that the findings will encourage improved education around the links between major sporting events and peaks in domestic violence and greater awareness of the risk.”
While the notion that a team’s performance could impact the number of domestic violence makes sense on some level, the UK Home Office’s analysis rightly points out that alcohol consumption is likely the predominant factor. Drunk fans aren’t so great at handling the emotion of winning or losing.