THE GAME SHE ALWAYS LOSES
Updated: Dec 1, 2022
By Laura Kalidz and Marie Rathmann
TRIGGER WARNING. Discussion of domestic violence, violence against women, gendered violence, homophobia. Do not read if these topics make you uncomfortable.
Hooligans, excessive drinking, incitations of riots. The subculture around the most popular game in the world - football - seems to have many violent aspects. Nearly everyone who has been to a football game knows how quickly situations can escalate. In spite of that, there still seems to be a big societal blind spot to a violent trend regarding the game: the spike of domestic violence against women during or around football games
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN.
Every fifth woman - i.e. 20% of women - in Austria is exposed to physical and/or sexual violence from the age of 15. Numbers concerning the EU are even worse - every third woman since the age of 15 (33%) is a survivor of domestic violence. (FRA - European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2014: 17; Autonome Österreichische Frauenhäuser, 2021). Of course, a much higher number of unreported cases can be expected since shame is a reason for not talking about it.
To bring light to the violence women face, the next few paragraphs will focus on the media’s perception of this issue as well as pin-point certain aspects that could be improved to raise awareness as well as help broaden the societal understanding of this particular gendered problem.
MORE THAN JUST A GAME.
Fans identify with the successes of their favorite team (Carriedo, Cecchini & González, 2019: 579). While multiple studies have raised concerns about links between domestic violence rates and football games, media attention seems to only have been garnered rather recently. Connections have been made between aggression as well as low moral standard and a higher likelihood of domestic violence against women during or after football matches (e.g. Carriedo, Cecchini & González, 2021; Carriedo, Cecchini & González, 2019). In addition, regardless of education and aggressive personality, men tend to have a more positive attitude towards institutional aggression the more hours per week they watch sports programs on television (Brady, 2007: 523).
Alcohol is heavily linked to football and fan culture in general. The earlier the kick-off time of a game, the longer the period of time in which the offender's excessive consumption can ensue and the higher the likelihood that domestic violence can occur after the event (Ivandić, Kirchmaier & Torres-Blas, 2021: 30).
“Delaying the start of the games until the evening and scheduling them on weekdays would help prevent a considerable amount of domestic abuse.“ (Ivandić, Kirchmaier & Torres-Blas, 2021: 30).
Studies also suggest that football harbors a particularly dangerous environment for toxic masculinity (Hughson & Free, 2011: 117-125) which is a result of the patriarchal society we live in and its hegemonic ideals. This particular study largely discusses how football generally doesn’t offer a safe environment for gay players. In a patriarchal society, being gay is considered less masculine. Furthermore, the club worship that leads to hooliganism can also be linked to the presentation of hypermasculinity (Spaaij, 2008: 378). This can be connected with the constant need for a presentation of hypermasculinity in this environment. Everything that can be considered feminine will in turn be considered bad.
BURDEN OF PROOF.
Reporting of last summer’s European Championship included taboo topics that rarely make the news. Racism amongst English fans towards Black players as well as the spikes of domestic violence towards women made headlines internationally. In 2014, the British National Centre For Domestic Violence launched a campaign to raise awareness to the issue that has since been reported on internationally. Other studies that found their way into the media have specifically referenced alcohol consumption as one of the driving factors of increased domestic assault cases (Der Standard, 2021: n.p.).
German speaking news outlets such as DerStandard, k.at or Die Bild also reported on the issue, however, it is to be noted that only few of those articles found their way into the Instagram feeds. Especially for younger people, Instagram among many other social media platforms is regularly used to stay informed on political issues. The rise of infographics that can easily be shared to one’s story and thus reach a greater audience that can be made aware of certain problems have recently begun to get a lot of traction. Worth mentioning is Katapult magazine, which has taken on a role model function by extensively dividing the content including graphics. Furthermore, we are clearly in favor of trigger warnings in this context and would like them to be used more frequently in connection with this sensitive issue.
The project regarding the spike in domestic violence during football games has now been completed. It has been a two part effort - the first one being a blog post containing general information in regards to the topic while the second was a short podcast sequence made up off a discussion around the issue and possible solutions.
It is important to once again mention that this gendered violence subject must not be ignored. In an attempt to look for possible solutions we also strongly want to advocate for raised awareness the problem so desperately needs.
With the help of this podcast for listening, we want to underpin the impressions of reading and visually seeing.
Any women or female presenting people in need of assistance and survivors of domestic violence/sexual assault can reach out to the following help lines (Austria):
24/7 Women's helpline: +43 800/222-555 or www.frauenhelpline.at, anonymously, free of charge and multilingual.
Online HelpChat for women: www.haltdergewalt.at, multilingual.
Men's helpline: +43 720 / 70 44 00 or https://www.maennerinfo.at.
Brady, S. S. (2007). Young adults' media use and attitudes toward interpersonal and institutional forms of aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 33(6), 519–525. https://doi.org/10.1002/ab.20208.
Carriedo, A., Cecchini, J. A., & González, C. (2021). Soccer spectators' moral functioning and aggressive tendencies in life and when watching soccer matches. Ethics & Behavior, 31(2), 136–150. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508 422.2020.1715801.
Carriedo, A., Cecchini, J. A., & González, C. (2019). Soccer in the mass media: Examining the role of metaperceptions of goal orientation on spectators’ moral functioning. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 14(3), 571–583. https://doi.org/10.14198/jhse.2019.143.08.
DerStandard, beaha (2021). Fußball, häusliche Gewalt und die große Rolle von Alkohol. Retrieved from: https://www.derstandard.at/story/2000128137765/fussball -und-gewalt-gegen-frauen-die-grosse-rolle-von-alkohol (2021, October 17).
FRA – Agentur der Europäischen Union für Grundrechte. (2014). Gewalt gegen Frauen: Eine EU-weite Erhebung - Egebnisse auf einen Blick. Luxemburg: Amt für Veröffentlichungen. Retrieved from: https://fra.europa.eu/sites /default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2014-vaw-survey-at-a-glance-oct14_de.pdf (2021, November 1).
Spaaij, R. (2008). Men Like Us, Boys Like Them: Violence, Masculinity, and Collective Identity in Football Hooliganism. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 32(4), 369–392. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193723508324082.
Hughson, J., & Free, M. (2011). Football's ‘Coming Out’: Soccer and Homophobia in England's Tabloid Press. Media International Australia, 140(1), 117-125.
Ivandić, R., Kirchmaier, T. & Torres-Blas, N. (2021). Football, alcohol and domestic abuse. Centre for Economic Performance. Discussion Paper. ISSN 2042-2695. No.1781 July 2021. Retrieved from: https://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download /dp1781.pdf (2021, November 10).