Tuesday 7 August 2018 10:25, UK
Claims that football can trigger domestic violence are unreliable and risk trivialising abuse, a study has said.
Researchers analysed claims Old Firm matches between Celtic and Rangers and England World Cup games spark an increase in domestic violence.
They concluded that the links between football and domestic abuse were based on unreliable data and said that an ongoing pattern of abuse could not be associated with a specific event such as a football match.
A 2013 Lancaster University study analysed domestic violence figures from the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups, focusing only on Lancashire.
It reported that instances of domestic violence rose by 38 per cent when England lost a game, something new research has challenged.
Dr Nancy Lombard, reader in sociology and social policy at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: "All stakeholders had concerns about the reliability and implications of data suggesting a causal link between football and domestic violence and abuse.
"Participants highlighted concerns about the existing evidence and the need to view violence and abuse as a pattern of ongoing behaviour, which cannot be reduced to an incident associated with a particular event such as a football match.
"Specialist DVA [domestic violence and abuse] service providers were concerned that focusing on football masks the underlying causes and potentially offers perpetrators excuses for their abusive behaviour.
"Research which suggests potential links between DVA and factors such as football or alcohol has proliferated, and links between them may be misinterpreted, misrepresented and misunderstood."
Researchers from Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Glasgow and the University of Bristol used focus groups and interviews conducted in Scotland and England for the study.
They also said that previous studies had "over-simplified" the issue of domestic violence, discounting a range of other factors such as the large number of men who watch the sport and increased policing on match days.
The researchers said more should be done to promote anti-violence messages through sport and that football clubs should highlight the work of DVA services and messages about non-abusive relationships.