Refuge statement on football and domestic violence

On the eve of the World Cup, Refuge responds to concerns that football tournaments may spike a rise in incidents of domestic violence


Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of national domestic violence charity Refuge, said:

Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge

“It’s important to be clear – football does not cause domestic violence. Lots of men who abuse women have no interest in sport whatsoever, and many men who are avid football fans never lay a finger on their partners.

Domestic violence is a deliberate pattern of behaviour intended to exert power and control over a partner. Domestic violence happens all year round – whether the England football team is playing or not. Two women are killed every week by current or former partners in England and Wales, regardless of the football fixtures.

However, some police forces claim to receive a higher number of reports of domestic violence following matches.  This could be for a number of reasons. Many forces run high profile awareness raising campaigns during key tournaments – so an increase in reports could reflect the fact that more women reach out for help because they are more aware of support.  Football matches can also exacerbate existing abuse: violent men may choose to use match times to inflict further violence on their partners, blaming their actions on things like stress or alcohol.

Above all it’s important to remember that no matter when or how domestic violence occurs it is a crime – which is as serious as any other violent crime. The police should be encouraging women to reach out for support every day of the year, not just during the World Cup.

“Refuge supports 3,000 women and children escaping domestic violence every day, 365 days a year. If you are being abused, contact Refuge for support – visit”