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While Men Celebrate Football Coming Home, Sexism and Abuse is Coming Home to Women

by Ally McLaren

“The bottom line is we haven’t won anything as a nation for a long, long time,” were the words England Captain Harry Kane offered in a June 2024 interview as a response to the Lions performance in the 2024 Euros.


Many were confused by his comment, as this is completely incorrect - unless “the nation” does not include women?


The Lionesses have long been overlooked for their continued achievements and their triumph in passing the men’s team's recent accomplishments. 


Despite first winning the Euros in 2022 and then making it to the World Cup final in 2023, a phenomenal achievement considering it is the first time that England have been in a World Cup final since 1966, the England women’s team are still underpaid, under-watched and under-appreciated.


The BBC reported that an audience of 21.2 million watched its coverage of the tournament, yet none of the Royal family or the Prime Minister attended the match, as they usually would if the men’s team were playing in a final.


And it is not just men in the profession who display sexism towards women, football spectators are displaying increased amounts of violence towards their partners during tournaments. 


As the Euros kicked off this summer, Domestic abuse charities began gearing up campaigns and bracing themselves for increased amounts of calls to their helplines.



Shockingly, the rates of abuse do not differ significantly whether England wins or loses a match. 


A study from Lancaster University looked at domestic abuse incidents reported to police in the North West of England across three separate tournaments and found that the risk of domestic abuse increased by 26% when the English national team won or drew, and rose by 38% when they lost.


Researchers at Warwick Business School reported that abuse and violence by partners increased by 47% when England won a World Cup or European Championship match. The study also concluded that reports of cases involving alcohol were 18% higher than average.


What are the reasons for this rise in violence around football matches, even if there is a positive result?


While football itself does not cause domestic violence, the atmosphere of increased alcohol use and heightened emotional states can exacerbate existing abusive behaviours. The pandemic, the closure of pubs, and the cost of living crisis has led to an increase in people watching football in their own homes, which creates more opportunity for violence and an environment where women do not feel safe in their own homes and have nowhere to escape to.

  

The Leeds Domestic Violence Service (LDVS) has already reported a rise in incidents during the 2024 Euros, receiving 22% more calls to their helpline since the tournament started, an increase of 19% compared with June 2023.


What can be done to address the issue of violence against women during football tournaments?


Domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid has raised awareness with powerful advertising campaigns taking place during major tournaments. 


In 2022, the charity launched the award-winning ‘He’s Coming Home’ campaign. For 2024, Women’s Aid is raising awareness through its ‘No More Hurt’ campaign, featuring classic football scarves imprinted with well-known football chants that have been turned into anti-abuse slogans such as ‘No More Years of Hurt’, ‘He’s Coming Home’, and ‘England Till I Die.’


While for many the thought of spending a long hot summer watching football and the potential of an England victory brings them joy, for countless women it strikes fear. While the worst thing that should happen is losing a football game, at least one woman a week is killed by their abuser, and with domestic abuse rates rising as much as 38% if England loses, more women are likely to lose their lives.


Find out more about the support Women’s Aid is offering during the 2024 Euros here.


Edited by Emily Duff

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