An increase in domestic violence in Cayman over the past month has been attributed to the World Cup.
Disappointing defeats, betting losses and increased alcohol consumption have all been cited as factors by concerned social workers who are linking a rise in reports of abuse to the soccer tournament.
The Crisis Centre in Cayman has been inundated with women seeking safe refuge since the start of the competition, according to Executive Director Ania Milanowska-Sedgley.
“It is really quite disturbing and rather sad that this increase in domestic violence quite clearly started when the World Cup kicked off,” she said.
“The ‘beautiful game,’ which is such a great opportunity to unite families in their joint support of their team, does not seem quite so beautiful to these victims of domestic violence.”
She said there had been a “marked increase” in women coming to the center for help during the tournament.
Research by criminologists in the United Kingdom indicated a spike in domestic abuse during World Cups – particularly during England games.
Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh, of Essex police in the south of England, told the Guardian newspaper that the disturbing trend was on the rise in his county.
“There’s a mixture of factors that come together during a World Cup tournament; many people drink, there is the emotional stress of the game, and there is a whole issue around competitiveness and testosterone levels. Most people will watch the game and will never do anything violent but a small minority will become deeply aggressive and unpleasant,” Chief Constable Kavanagh said.
Even in famously peaceful Costa Rica, police reported a surge in domestic violence following the country’s exit from the World Cup in the quarterfinals.
“Violent intra family incidents spiked during Costa Rica’s games during the World Cup,” the Tico Times reported.
Ms. Milanowska-Sedgley said evidence of the phenomenon in Cayman was largely anecdotal as no statistical studies had been done. But she said the Crisis Centre’s clients had reported an increase in the level of aggressive behavior towards them since the start of the tournament and there were times when the shelter had been inundated with women seeking refuge.
“This is a global phenomenon and it seems Cayman, sadly, is not exempt.”
She also expressed concern about people joking that they were “off to beat the wife” after a bad result.
“It is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that people know this is not funny and it is not acceptable,” she added.