The World Cup kicks off in Qatar from 20 November to 18 December 2022. It’s a tournament which has drawn comment and criticism for off field issues including, human rights, slavery and the policies and treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. Closer to home major tournaments and high profile matches are often accompanied by reports around the prevalence of domestic abuse suffered by people when the football is on. It’s a subject we are pleased to be looking at with our partners Edan Lincs.
Fundamentally perpetrators must not be allowed to use football as an excuse to abuse.
Here at Lady Imps Supporters Association we actively work to promote and encourage the involvement of women at Lincoln City FC, Lincoln City Women FC and across football more widely. Our clubs have been supportive in our work to acknowledge and welcome women supporters - together we led the way in doing so when we started in 2017.
We know that the majority of football supporters are just like people in any other walk of life, some wanting a traditional match day with some beer and cheer, others looking for a family friendly day out. There are many ways to support your team and there’s room for everyone. There is no room for hate or violence.
Lady Imps promotes inclusion and diversity in our game. We also cannot ignore the sexism displayed by a minority in football, mostly on social media but occasionally at the game. We support the #HerGameToo movement and defend the right of women to enjoy a safe space in football.
Violence against women and girls is also recognised as an issue for many and we echo the voice of our partners, Edan Lincs, that the use of football as an ‘excuse’ to abuse partners and children is abhorrent and an afront to the values of the game. We urge media and other organisations to consider circumstances carefully before labelling football as the cause of such violence and thereby diverting the blame from the perpetrators to our game, and tainting fans.
With the World Cup commencing in the coming months we will work together to highlight our stand against violence and abuse of women, men and children and blaming football as a trigger will not be tolerated.
You may have read statistics around the increase in domestic abuse incidents around football games or tournaments and indeed there is some data to support this;
A study in 2014 by academics at Lancaster University looked at the number of reports of abuse to a police force in the north-west of England during three football World Cups. They found that such reports increased by 26% when the national team won or drew, and by 38% when the team lost (other studies suggest abuse is worse when England wins). The Economist
Further studies which are detailed in the same article in The Economist indicate that it’s not the heightened emotion or ‘passion’ which results in people being violent or abusive. The studies also found it wasn’t losing a game which caused anger, in turn leading to violence. The violence also wasn’t at its highest immediately after a final whistle.
The study found that alcohol was the factor which increased the number of reported incidents. So while all day or post match binge drinking may take place on a match day, it seems the booze in the blood not the balls in the net contribute to the culprits actions! It’s always the responsibility of the perpetrator, even those with alcohol problems. Anecdotally a victim of domestic abuse will suffer many incidents before confiding in anyone or reporting to police. In the year ending 2021, women account for almost 75% of reported abuse victims according to the Office for National Statistics. Many women don’t call Police until they are in fear for their lives, they just want the abuse to stop. Of course abuse happens to men and in LGBTQ+ relationships and there are details of support below.
So what is Domestic Abuse? can you spot the signs and how can you help if you think someone is suffering? For more information on what Domestic Abuse is and where to find help go to Edan Lincs (End Domestic Abuse Now)
Finally, did you know women and girls were banned from playing football in 1921 and only allowed to play 50 years later in 1971. The legacy of the perception that this is purely a 'man's game' is taking time to undo, but there’s been a huge amount of work creating space for women. There are now more opportunities than ever for women and girls of any age and ability to play, support or get involved in other ways to enjoy the game.
We also know there are issues faced by women and girls in the game with some people finding it difficult to adjust to the fact that football is enjoyed by everyone. However this is not generally the overriding experience of supporters attending games. There is a sense of community and belonging which is hard to match. It can be noisy, friendly, funny, frustrating, sometimes a bit sweary, but overall a brilliant afternoon out.
We will be with Edan Lincs at the LNER Fan Village on Saturday 12th November when we play Plymouth. As we look ahead to the World Cup we ask #Imps to support a stand against domestic abuse by wearing a white ribbon for White Ribbon Day on the 25th November - we'll be giving White Ribbons away and offering some great prizes.
More stats on Football and Domestic Abuse
Fullfact.org World Cup
Domestic Abuse; England & Wales November 2021 Office for National Statistics
If you need help or advice contact;
EDAN Lincs Domestic Abuse Service
Outreach Hours: Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm
Refuge Hours: Monday - Friday: 8.30am – 8.30pm
Tel: 01522 510041
General Enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Edan Lincs | Twitter: @edanlincs | Instagram: @edanlincs
National Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0808 2000 24 – 24 hour freephone helpline
Men’s Advice Line – 0808 801 0327
Broken rainbow – LGBT Helpline – 0300 999 5428
Call 999 in an emergency - press 55 if it’s not safe for you to speak and Police will know you need them