The Darker Side of Football

The Darker Side of Football

By Ffion, SATEDA student writer


Football has become a huge part of British identity and culture, and it plays a large role in many people’s lives. Perhaps this is unsurprising given football’s deep history in the UK: modern football was invented here in the 19th century, and ‘folk’ football has been played since the Middle Ages. It has also come to represent many things, such as peace and unity; themes which are particularly apparent in large tournaments like the current UEFA European Championship.

However, football also has a much darker and violent side. The most obvious example of this is football hooliganism which became a serious problem in the 1960s, and continues to this day, although considered to be less of a problem in recent years.

Another serious issue involving football is one which many people may not even consider, and that is the increase of domestic abuse cases reported during football tournaments. According to a Lancaster University study, there is a 38% rise in cases when England lose and 26% when they either win or draw.

Although there is a clear correlation between the rise in domestic abuse and important football games, football is not the cause. There are many theories as to what could be the cause, however it is widely accepted that excessive alcohol consumption and heightened emotions play a part. Perpetrators are more likely to carry out abuse in these situations which puts women in significant danger.

‘No More Years of Hurt’ is the current instalment of Women’s Aid and House 337’s award winning campaign, ‘He’s Coming Home’. ‘He’s Coming Home’ is an ad campaign which was originally run with football players, clubs, and fans during the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Its goal was to raise awareness about the misogyny ingrained in English football culture, with a focus on the issue of domestic abuse. The ‘No More Years of Hurt’ campaign has been implemented during this year’s UEFA European Championship to once again highlight the dark side of football, including domestic abuse. It uses ad time on football broadcasts and social media to display messages, such as ‘no more years of hurt’, in order raise awareness of domestic abuse when it may not be on people’s minds, but at times when it may be the biggest threat women face.

The rise in reported domestic abuse cases is not limited to football. Although in the UK it is most likely to occur due to significant football matches, this is not the case in other countries. For example in New Zealand and Wales where rugby is more popular, the spike in domestic abuse cases centres around important rugby matches instead.

If you, or anyone you know, is in need of confidential, judgment-free advice around domestic abuse and healthy relationships, please contact us or visit one of our drop-ins.

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