The link between spikes in domestic violence after particular sports events like the State of Origin and UEFA Euro Cup and the promotion of gambling and alcohol around those events can’t be ignored, a top academic says.
As fans take in Queensland’s Origin series loss this week, domestic violence services in Australia have prepared for increased reporting of domestic attacks. In the UK similar measures were taken around the Italy vs England football final on Monday, that also resulted in racist attacks.
David Gallant, associate lecturer at the University of Melbourne, claims increases in violence surrounding rugby league, football, Formula 1, AFL and horse racing events is largely due to the extreme promotion of alcohol and gambling tied to each sport.
“I would say sport itself doesn’t breed violence. It’s what happens around sport. Gambling and the consumption of alcohol are two things that will happen on a daily basis outside of sport,” Mr Gallant told Central News.
“You take a country like Australia where so many people are invested and engaged in sporting teams and then combine alcohol and gambling, that’s what can drive issues of violence.”
In 2018, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) commissioned a report which suggested a correlation between NRL games and domestic violence incidents.
There is no magic answer to eradicating domestic violence, but with the knowledge that the State of Origin series is responsible for such a significant surge in domestic violence on the night of each game, the onus is on the NRL.
The report draws on data released by the New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) which revealed Australian women and children are 40 per cent more likely to be subject to domestic violence during the game days of State of Origin.
FARE Research Manager Dr Melanie Pescud urged State of Origin administrators to acknowledge the BOCSAR data and take action.
“We acknowledge that there is no magic answer to eradicating domestic violence, but with the knowledge that the State of Origin series is responsible for such a significant surge in domestic violence on the night of each game, the onus is on the NRL,” Dr Pescud said.
“The State of Origin series and NRL more broadly has become a battle of toxic masculinity and beer brands – it’s hard to know where the game ends and the violence and alcohol sponsorship begins.”
The independent FARE is committed to its End Alcohol Advertising in Sport campaign.
Not everyone is looking forward to the match tonight…
Instances of domestic abuse increase 26% when England play and 38% if they lose. #DomesticAbuse #DomesticViolence #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/M6uqqyg1Du
— NCDV – National Centre For Domestic Violence (@NCDV_Official) July 11, 2021
One in every three women around the world has experienced violence at the hands of their intimate partners, a statistic that rises during male-dominated sports events.
In 2018, the United Kingdom’s National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) led the campaign, ‘The Not-So-Beautiful Game’, which highlighted a similar link between domestic abuse cases and England playing in significant football tournaments.
The NCDV referenced a study conducted by Lancaster University which revealed a 26 per cent rise in domestic abuse cases when the England team won or drew and an increase of 38 per cent when it lost.
As fans across the world watch each game with trepidation so too do the partners of some of those fans.
Creative director Jo Wallace said the campaign offers an alternative insight into typically celebrated major football tournaments.
“As fans across the world watch each game with trepidation so too do the partners of some of those fans,” Ms Wallace said.
“The team saw these stats and immediately created this excellent work to help reach and support victims of domestic violence during the World Cup when they are in particular danger.”
Now, social media users are once again sharing and retweeting the NCDV campaign, implying the trend is set to continue.
Losing a final is heartbreaking. But the fallout is agony 💔
Racist abuse of national heroes.
Women at 38% increased risk of domestic violence because England lost a game of football.
Messages urging Black fans to hurry home to safety, away from the baying mob.
— Anna Kessel (@Anna_Kessel) July 11, 2021
Mr Gallant said while the overconsumption of alcohol and promotion of gambling at games leads to violence, sports clubs generally rely on the advertising to stay afloat.
“We’ve seen lots of projects try and do more for the responsible service of alcohol… particularly to try and quell some of the violence that you might see on the grounds,” he added. “That’s been difficult for those clubs to keep that going because of the financial burden of not selling.
“Our elite teams can take the lead in this space, and really drive change for the community. If they’re on board, we love our teams so much, that we’d probably and hopefully see change happen at a greater pace.”
In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. Another helpful resource maybe Sexual Assault Counselling Australia: 1800 211 028. In an emergency, call 000.
Main picture courtesy NCDV by Wunderman Thompson