There may not be any substantial evidence that sports on television generates domestic violence, but that is not stopping public officials from using the World Cup as a hook to campaign against such abuse.
Taking a cue from soccer terminology, the officials and television personalities are giving a red card to domestic violence. That is the sign of a major penalty warranting expulsion from the game.
The Dutch Embassy is involved because Costa Rica’s national team plays its next game Saturday against that country at the World Cup in Brazil.
Those photographed displaying a large red card range from President Luis Guillermo Solís to a series of television personalities.
The idea that major league sports generates domestic violence was a public relations ploy by a group in California campaigning against domestic violence just before the 1996 Superbowl.
The contentions were generally debunked by later news stories in major U.S. publications.
There has not been any empirical evidence until 2011 and a study released by Lancaster University in the United Kingdom this year.
In both cases, the sociology researchers used what best could be described as voodoo mathematics to show that domestic violence increases on days with either U.S. football or on days when the English team wins or loses a World Cup game.
A reporter asked the principal researcher by email early Wednesday if the results really were not just correlations with increases in domestic
violence on weekends. Nearly half the English
soccer games were played on a Saturday or Sunday. In neither of the two studies did the methodology determine if those involved in domestic violence had been watching U.S. football or televised soccer.
The British researcher did not respond.
Public officials plan to advance the campaign at a press conference today in the Corte Suprema de Justicia.