Unsportsmanlike Conduct, Off the Field: Domestic violence in the U.K. is said to spike every time England loses a football match
Football in Europe is a world unto itself, less a professional sport than an exercise in 21st-century nationalism: stadia take the place of battlegrounds and players the place of soldiers, while fans and hooligans hold down the home front, anxiously awaiting news of their boys overseas. Victory can ignite a country’s passion and patriotism, while defeat can sour the national mood for weeks.
Nowhere is the mania more catching than England. Indeed, Brits are such fervent fans that domestic violence in the U.K. during World Cup play rises and falls with the fate of the country’s football team—this according to a recent study in Significance, the Royal Statistical Society’s bimonthly journal.
This may not come as news; the link between football—both soccer and American-style—and spousal abuse has long been a topic. In the U.S. it arises with the canard that domestic violence peaks on Super Bowl Sunday (although it does increase when the home team loses); across the pond it entered the national conversation in 2006, when a Home Office report, reviewing crime statistics from that year’s World Cup, first asserted a correlation. But the U.K. government’s analysis had plenty of critics—not least among them soccer’s more peaceable superfans—and the phenomenon remained something of an urban legend: plausible, if unproven.