Security ministry says World Cup causes violence

The Fuerza Pública has embarked on a campaign to prevent domestic violence amplified by the World cup soccer games. The department said in a tape prepared for radio that there were 20 domestic violence calls per hour during the Costa Rica-Greece game in Brazil Sunday.

Despite the number of calls, the same agency reported detaining just two persons Sunday and early Monday. In Guápiles, a 20-year-old man threatened his mother and a cousin with a knife during a family argument. Police also went to a home in Ticabán because a neighbor complained a man was hurting his female companion. The woman would not file a complaint, but police arrested the man on the allegation that he resisted officers.

The idea that professional sports encourages spousal violence, sometimes called an urban legend, stems from a 1993 press conference in the United States where a women’s group claimed that Superbowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year for domestic violence. The Superbowl is the American professional football championship.

Later news stories said that the authors of academic studies cited in the press conference disavowed the characterization. Yet, the belief lingers that men routinely beat up their significant other as a result of watching sports matches.

The Fuerza Pública may be influenced by a recent Lancaster University study in the United Kingdom. The researchers are Stuart Kirby and Rosalie O’Flaherty in the university’s Department of Applied Social Science and a mathematics professor, Brian Francis.

The trio studied domestic abuse incidents from a police force in northwest England during World Cup tournaments in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

The trio concluded that “the risk of domestic abuse rose by 26 percent when the English national team won or drew, and a 38 percent increase when the national team lost. Secondly a tournament trend was apparent, as reported domestic abuse incidents increased in frequency with each new tournament.”

The researchers said that no prior study has associated soccer with domestic violence but this correlation has already been established with American Football. They cited a study by California academics David  Card and Gordon B. Dahl that appeared in The Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2011.

That study is available online, and it says that upset losses lead to a 10 percent increase in the

How many such incidents can be blamed on sports viewing?

How many such incidents can be blamed on sports viewing?

rate of at-home violence by men against their wives and girlfriends. Other losses and wins have no effect, they said.

The Lancaster University trio also used complex math similar to the Card and Dahl study. They used Poisson and negative binomial regression models.  Poisson, named after a 19th century French mathematician, is basically predictive, similar to a chi square test.

Unlike the California study, the Lancaster research said that the risk of domestic abuse rose by 26 percent when the English national team won or drew. The researchers reported a 38 percent increase when the national team lost. Secondly a tournament trend was apparent, as reported domestic abuse incidents increased in frequency with each new tournament, they added.

They compared domestic violence reports on days that the English team played in the World Cup and days that it did not.

All the researchers pointed out that alcohol can play a role, as can a number of various factors.
The use of the Poisson regression model did not fit the data, so the Lancaster academics discarded it.

Based on the second regression method, the researchers concluded that “although there are numerous methodological issues surrounding the accurate identification and collection of incidents, the study provides a statistically significant finding that domestic abuse does increase in England on the days when the English national team played in the foreign tournament.”

One confounding fact is that domestic violence always is greater on the weekends than during the week, and seven of the 13 World Cup games in 2002, 2006 and 2010 used in the complex mathematic formulas were on Saturdays and Sundays.

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