"Football can never be the reason for domestic abuse and will be shown the red card."
By Meka Beresford
LONDON, June 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Police and activists in Britain have issued warnings over domestic violence ahead of England's first World Cup football match on Monday, with evidence showing abuse levels spike when the national team plays.
A number of forces across the country have joined the Give Domestic Abuse the Red Card campaign, which provides support for potential victims.
"For those who refuse to address their behaviour our message is clear," said Anne-Marie Salwey, specialist crime superintendent with the police force of Cleveland in northeast England, in a statement.
"We will not tolerate domestic abuse and will take action against anyone who uses physical or mental abuse to control, coerce or harm a member of their family. Football can never be the reason for domestic abuse and will be shown the red card."
Several police forces in Britain said they would deploy extra forces to safeguard potential victims of abuse as England prepared to take on Tunisia.
The most detailed research into the links between the World Cup and domestic abuse found that violent incidents in Lancashire in northeast England increased by 38 percent when the national team lost and by 26 percent when they won.
Lancaster University criminologist Dr Stuart Kirby, a former police officer, monitored police reports of domestic violence during the last three World Cups in 2002, 2006 and 2010.
"Domestic abuse does not happen in a cultural vacuum," said Katie Ghose, chief executive of domestic violence charity Women's Aid, in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"The sexist attitudes, chants and behaviour at football matches encourage an environment in which women are belittled and demeaned," she said.
"Together, we can send out the powerful message that domestic abuse is always unacceptable and that there is no place for violence in football whether on or off the pitch."
(Reporting by Meka Beresford @mekaberesford, Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.