A disturbing report from Megan French at the Guardian.co.uk cites an increase in incidences of domestic violence in England following their World Cup quarterfinal elimination by Germany:
Fears that the World Cup would be accompanied by a surge in domestic violence appear to have been realised, with one police force recording the greatest number of incidents since 1 January on the day England were knocked out of the tournament.
On 27 June, when England were defeated 4-1 by Germany, Greater Manchester police logged 353 incidents of domestic violence.
A spokesman for the force said the figure was the second highest recorded so far this year — and 15.7% higher than the same day last year.
Police forces had been asked to highlight the issue after research conducted during the last World Cup showed that domestic violence increased by almost a third during the tournament.
Perhaps that last sentence illustrates the most disturbing part of the story: England knew this was coming, tried to stop it, but couldn't.
That said, the volume of increase in abuse claims may not be exclusive to the World Cup or sport; rather, it may concern how information was collected:
Greater Manchester police teamed up with 10 local authorities, the Greater Manchester Domestic Abuse Helpline and Greater Manchester Public Health Network to launch an End the Fear World Cup campaign aimed at encouraging victims to seek support.
The helpline received 635 calls in June — which encompassed three weeks of the tournament — but the majority of cases of domestic abuse took place after England lost to Germany.
"Apart from New Year's Day, it's the highest number of domestic abuse incidents recorded in a day so far this year ," said the spokesman.
The correlation between abuse calls and the England-Germany match should be alarming, but it is little surprise that increased efforts to identify cases of domestic abuse (the abuse helpline, the coordination of efforts) have lead to more reports. You're more likely to find something if you look for it, but just because you were not searching before does not mean that "something" did not exist.
That flip-side of the coin should increase our worry. If the increase in volume is merely a product of better identification measures, then the true number of abuse cases was merely underreported in 2009.
The Guardian's report does not get into the specifics of the analysis, but coloring this problem in the context of the World Cup may be obfuscating the issue. Perhaps this is a constant, not quadrennial, problem. Rather than saying "don't abuse your partner during the World Cup," the focus may be batter cast as "don't abuse your partner.