As the Costa Rican soccer team braces for its toughest test so far in the World Cup, the country’s leaders are raising awareness against acts of domestic violence that they see in correlation with the games.
Members of La Sele joined the campaign Thursday, taking a break from practice in Santos, Brazil, to support the message to stop violence against women. Players were photographed holding signs that read, No a la violencia, cuidémonos juntos, or in English, No to violence, let’s take care of each other.
Leading up to the game against Holland this Saturday, the Fuerza Pública has received nearly 1,500 calls complaining of domestic violence during Costa Rica’s four games thus far in the World Cup, according to a press report. Sunday during the tense shootout win over Greece, police said they received 486 such complaints throughout the day, or about 20 calls per hour.
At a Thursday press conference Zarela Villanueva Monge, the president of Corte Suprema de Justicia, stood behind the campaign and said in this time of national ecstasy, people need to take time to reflect on these rising numbers of aggressions towards women. She said that 13 Costa Rican woman have died so far this year from domestic violence, including a 32-year-old mother of two Sunday.
“Violence is intolerable on the field and in the house,” she said. “We want to see that women are being treated with respect in their homes and on the streets.”
Bastiaan Engelhard, first secretary for the Dutch Embassy, joined Ms. Villanueva to show that Holland is aligned with Costa Rica in fighting these types of transgressions. He said the Dutch government is happy to see the country take a stand against domestic violence through all institutions, including the soccer team. “We may be rivals on the field, but we’re also partners off it,” Engelhard said.
The anti-violence campaign spearheaded in Costa Rica by the Instituto Nacional de las Mujeres is largely based off a recent Lancaster University study titled, “Football World Cup a risk factor for domestic violence?” In it researcher Brian Francis concludes that domestic abuse increases in direct relation to World Cup viewing, and becomes especially high if the nation’s team loses.