Research says football is being used a scapegoat for domestic abuse

The study comes as a “pioneering” programme that aims to change the behaviour of domestic perpetrators is rolled out across six local authorities in Scotland

The claim that football and domestic abuse are linked is a myth according to research from Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Glasgow and the University of Bristol.

The study claimed the data behind reports linking a spike in cases to Old Firm results or the outcome of England World Cup games is misleading and fails to recognise abuse as a pattern of ongoing behaviour.

Dr Nancy Lombard, reader in sociology and social policy at Glasgow Caledonian University highlighted concerns about the reliability and implications of the “causal link between football and domestic violence and abuse”.

Lombard said: “Specialist domestic violence and abuse service providers were concerned that focusing on football masks the underlying causes and potentially offers perpetrators excuses for their abusive behaviour.”

The findings used focus groups and one-to-one interviews with police, support groups and football authorities have been published in the Journal of Gender-Based violence.

The first in-depth study comes as The Caledonian System, a programme that aims to aims to combat domestic abuse through the rehabilitation of male perpetrators and work to improve the lives of affected women and children has been given a further £2.8 million in funding from the Scottish Government.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said tackling violence against women was a “priority for the Scottish government”.

He said “Funding to expand the availability of the Caledonian System is one of the measures we have put in place to protect victims and hold perpetrators to account, including strengthening the law and passing the Domestic Abuse Act earlier this year.”

The Caledonian System works as an alternative to custody by rehabilitating men convicted of domestic abuse-related offences using cognitive behavioural techniques.

A 2016 review of the programme found participants “posed a lower risk to partners, children and others” by the end of the programme, with women feeling “safer”.

As part of the Scottish Government’s Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 the funding will see the scheme rolled out in Dundee, Fife, Glasgow, Highland and South Lanarkshire local authorities, doubling the programme’s reach.