England lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy on Monday in a decisive 3-2 loss on penalties. While Euro 2020 does bring the energy of excited fans ready to cheer their team to victory, that spirit quickly turns to aggression when that team loses. Who’s there to take the brunt of that anger, the ones at home. Statistically, there is a 26% increase in domestic violence when England plays, and that number goes up to 38% if the team loses according to the National Centre for Domestic Violence.
Football is practically a semi-religious practice for those in the UK, from playing the sport to cheering on their favourite teams during the season. UK fans will dump millions and millions of dollars into buying merchandise and supporting their teams’ matches. In Britain, football is always mentioned in various competitions and which team someone supports is a deal breaker for many. The British football fanbase is notorious for hooliganism and riots regardless of whether their team wins or not. While the sport itself is harmless with many respectfully cheering their teams on in a friendly competition, the overbearing and diehard fans make the sport hard to enjoy for many.
With many domestic abuse organizations promoting ads to seek help during England football matches, many sport fans are quick to defend their beloved sport. With comments like “what a joke, blaming football for domestic violence” or “It’s to do with the alcohol consumption u morons not England playing”. Nevertheless, the link between the increase in violence and English football matches is clearly evident.
The aggression does not just end at domestic abuse, unfortunately. With many incidents of racism rearing its ugly horns, especially towards English players being targeted on social media after missing their penalties. This is especially sickening considering the fact that Buyako Saka, one of the players, is only 19 years old. The racist comments and hate were so appalling that the English Football Association as well as the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had to release a statement condemning the racial abuse. “This England team deserves to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media. Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves” said Prime Minister Johnson. While the England team tweeted “We’re disgusted that some of our squad – who have given everything for the shirt this summer – have been subjected to discriminatory abuse after tonight’s game”.
It is important to note that while football doesn’t cause domestic abuse, the anger from one’s team losing a big game, the influence of alcohol and other drugs, can be a motivating factor for abuse. At the end of the day, it is the choices that an abuser makes and their sole responsibility for their abusive actions. Having hobbies and supporting your favourite sport teams is a good thing however, like everything else in life, in moderation and not at the expense of others.