London: On July 12, Italy became the champions of the Euro 2020 football, winning against England in a penalty shoot-out in the final part of the game, scoring a 3-2. However, the disappointing loss of the game wasn’t just felt in the stands— it extended beyond, manifesting itself in hate crimes and violence against England’s powerless groups.
After the much anticipated football game ended in a 1-1 tie, the fate of the match was decided by a penalty-shoot. Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma defended the goal against shoot-outs by English players Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and youngster Bukayo Saka, earning his team the title by a 3-2 lead against England’s 2-3.
However, as painful as the defeat might have been for some fans, it was overshadowed by the alarming rise of cases in domestic violence and hate crimes.
Cases of domestic violence increased by 38%. In fact, regardless of winning or losing, whenever the English football team is in action, cases of domestic violence go up by 26%, as per the data shared by UK's National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV). This is also backed by a study conducted by Lancaster University researchers in 2013, which found that domestic abuse rose by 26% when England won or drew a match, and by 38% when they lost.
The issue has risen to such a point that anti-domestic violence charities like Women’s Aid and Refuge have urged victims to reach out.
Football doesn't cause domestic abuse but a big game can be the catalyst for increasing or more severe abuse. If you’re a survivor who needs support, please reach out to us. In an emergency, always call 999.https://t.co/g7usyLJIlE#Euros2020 #Euros2021 #ItsNotComingHome pic.twitter.com/LUIhcjbMPR— Women's Aid (@womensaid) July 11, 2021
“Football does not cause domestic violence – abusers choosing to exert power and control over their victims cause it. We do know that the number of reported cases of domestic abuse rises around football matches. Increased alcohol consumption and the strong emotions associated with the game can cause existing abuse to increase in both severity and frequency,” said Farah Nazeer, chief executive of Women’s Aid. This statement was aided by Ruth Davison, chief executive of Refuge, who agreed that pre existing behaviours of domestic violence are exacerbated during football tournaments.
Share our Helpline details tonight. #Football tournaments don’t cause abuse; abuse is always a choice an abuser makes - but they can aggravate pre-existing abusive behaviours. So please, share and let survivors know they are not alone: https://t.co/zrOzNlp3hK #ENG #Euros2020 pic.twitter.com/Q5QfAHnHmc— Refuge (@RefugeCharity) July 11, 2021
In fact, the increase in domestic violence cases during football season is backed by research conducted by the London School of Economics Centre for Economics Performance. The study found that while domestic abuse decreases in the duration of the two hours in which the game is being played, it increases exponentially in its aftermath, with the effect peaking 10 to 12 hours later.
Not everyone is looking forward to the match tonight...— NCDV - National Centre For Domestic Violence (@NCDV_Official) July 7, 2021
Instances of domestic abuse increase 26% when England play and 38% if they lose. #DomesticAbuse #DomesticViolence #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/UbBpuHmzK2
Instances of hooliganism towards players who missed the penalty shoot-out was also seen excessively online, with English players Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka bearing the brunt of it. In fact, the hate received online has gotten to such an extreme extent, that the acts have been condemned by the English Football Association, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and even Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
I am sickened by the racist abuse aimed at England players after last night’s match.— The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (@KensingtonRoyal) July 12, 2021
It is totally unacceptable that players have to endure this abhorrent behaviour.
It must stop now and all those involved should be held accountable. W
"This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media. Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves," said Johnson in a statement. The Metropolitan Police of London has also said that they would be investigating "offensive and racist" social media posts directed at these players.
The abuses aren’t just being directed at the players. Angry fans are also targeting whole communities, engaging in racist comments and acts online and offline.
In fact, Twitter says that they deleted over 1000 racist tweets after England’s loss on Monday.
Further, this wasn’t the only boorish behaviour exhibited by the sports fan. After being unable to get tickets, hundreds of football fans stormed Wembley Stadium in an attempt to get in.
Security struggle to stop England fans without tickets storming the ticket entrances at Wembley 😳pic.twitter.com/KmbhhP5XRX— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) July 11, 2021
In fact, Metropolitan Police confirmed 49 arrests ”of various offences” on the day of the match, with 19 on-duty officers being injured in the skirmishes. A volunteer outside Wembley told the Independent, “There were thousands on the steps near Wembley Way that bomb-rushed the barriers and broke through. It looked so co-ordinated as it happened in one big move as soon as God Save The Queen started. There was chaos everywhere. Fences were thrown on the concourse.”
Further, English fans were seeing booing Italian players, an extremely demoralising and rude act, especially with the match not taking place in the Italian players’ home country.
There were other instances of fans’ hooliganism and rude behaviour, with many littering the scenes and causing public nuisance.
Trees are being thrown 😭 pic.twitter.com/aJUfcD0uL7— Nadine Batchelor-Hunt (@nadinebh_) July 11, 2021
Feel most deflated not by the result but because the semifinal here was joyful. Unifying. Tonight was a disaster. Fans disgracing themselves, storming barriers, fighting. Others racially abusing #England players on social media. Not talking about litter when I say what a mess pic.twitter.com/0Yk2jaViGw— Paul Brown (@pbsportswriter) July 11, 2021
The cases of such obsessive fan behaviour are alarming, but perhaps more alarming is the fact that none of this is unique to England. Hooliganism and rude behaviour by sports fans is a phenomena experienced worldwide, be it the American Super Bowl, or our own World Cup or any other cricket series.
However, much of this extreme behaviour is simply pushed under the rug, dismissed as an acceptable behaviour of a “sports fan”. However, in comparison, much tamer behaviour by other fan groups is often immediately labelled as “psychotic”, “crazy”, or “obsessive”. For example, a fan group of a boyband merely queuing up to get tickets for a whole day or buying merchandise of their favourite artists is often labelled as “obsessive” by popular culture or society, despite being much tamer and almost incomparable to the hooliganism and violence sports fans might subject everyone else to in the name of a hobby.
The only difference between the two groups is that while one has a predominantly male demographic, the other has a more predominant female demographic. It only goes further to highlight that actions of a female-dominated demographic are quick to be generalised, as well as shunned or labelled as abnormal, while extremely concerning acts of violence and public nuisance are viewed as acceptable or instances of isolated bad behaviour, simply because it the activity caters to a more male-dominated demographic.
It is a simple comparison that works to highlight deeply ingrained microaggressions in a misogynistic and patriarchal society, where any activity not catered towards a male-audience is shunned or criticised. It is extremely alarming that while queuing up nightly to get tickets to a concert is immediately labelled as concerning ”female fan behaviour”, it has to take a rise in cases of domestic violence and abuse based on faith, race and sexual orientation for the society to even consider shuning male fan-behaviour.