Children face greater risk of domestic abuse during World Cup

We're calling for the Government to deliver a Victims Bill that legislates for support services for children impacted by domestic abuse.


We're warning of an increased risk of domestic abuse during the Qatar World Cup as new figures reveal a spike in contacts to our Helpline about children experiencing violence and abuse at home during the last tournament.

Our analysis found that during the previous football World Cup contacts to our Helpline about domestic abuse jumped by a third (33%) on the monthly average, reaching more than 1,000.

Heightened emotional stress, alcohol and betting on the games could act as potential triggers to incidents in the home over the next four weeks.

We're concerned that hundreds of thousands of children could be at risk as new Government data reveals almost 250,000 children are impacted by domestic abuse in England

These findings chime with research showing a direct correlation between high profile sporting events and reports of domestic abuse to emergency services, agencies, and charities.

During the last World Cup in 2018, our Helpline - which takes calls from adults concerned about children - delivered 1,060 child welfare contacts about domestic abuse, a 33% increase on the monthly average for that year.

And Childline saw a 17% increase on the monthly average for the number of counselling sessions delivered to children and young people about domestic abuse.


A 13-year-old girl, who contacted Childline during the 2018 World Cup, said:

“My brother gets very aggressive when he drinks, he shouts at us for no reason and demands money from my mum.

“Today, after the England game, he came home drunk and hit my mum in the face, so I had to call the police. He’s been causing trouble for years and, to be honest, I’m done with him. I wish he could just disappear from our lives so that me and my mum weren’t so scared all the time.”

Our warning comes after children were officially recognised as victims of domestic abuse as part of the Domestic Abuse Act in January.

We’ve said the changes should lead to the impact of domestic abuse on children being better understood, their needs considered, and support given.

But support services for children are patchy with young victims of domestic abuse facing barriers to accessing help in two thirds of local authorities, according to Action for Children research.

This has led to calls for the UK Government to deliver a Victims Bill that is strengthened to ensure specialist support is available for all children impacted by domestic abuse.

The Government published a draft Bill in May, but children and families are still waiting for it to be brought before Parliament.

Jess* said:

“I remember the ’98 World Cup – the final was on my birthday, and we were making posters for it at school. One of my friends was saying he watched every game with his dad and I just remember thinking what a weird concept that was, because I could never do that.

“When the football was on at home, we had to stay out of the room. If we had to go through to get to the kitchen, I stayed absolutely silent. I don’t think he was a big football fan, it was just another way he was able to control us. When the football was on, everything revolved around the TV.

“Of course, if his team lost we’d all feel the effects. His mood would change and my mum would be the one who he’d direct most of his anger towards. We were always on eggshells but when the football was on, the ending would feel inevitable.

“He’d bet on the matches too so the mood changes were connected to him losing money too. We’d often go to the pub that he worked at when the football was on. I remember him dragging me into a barn behind the pub and threatening me one day – all while keeping up the ‘nice guy’ persona with the other men in the pub. He used football as a way to bond with the other men and be ‘one of the lads’. But the reality of his personality was very different.”

*name changed


Sir Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said:

“The majority of fans across the country will enjoy the World Cup with friends and family but for many children living with domestic abuse it will bring nervousness, fear and even violence.

“Anyone who hears or sees something worrying regarding a child while watching the football can reach out to the NSPCC Helpline for confidential advice.

“Domestic abuse can decimate a child’s confidence and sense of security and without support it can have a devastating impact at the time and long into the future.

“The Government could take a step towards ensuring children have the opportunity to recover from domestic abuse by pressing ahead with a Victims Bill that recognises the needs of the hundreds of thousands of children living in violent homes.”

The World Cup coincides with the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international campaign that kicks off on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until December 10, Human Rights Day.

We firmly support the important role of sport in childhood and recognises the enjoyment this brings. Our Child Protection in Sport Unit helps parents to engage positively with clubs to help ensure children stay safe in sports settings.

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  • In 2021/22, domestic abuse was identified as a factor in 245,260 assessments to children’s social care in England. Source: National Statistics (2022) “Characteristics of children in need statistics” -
  • The Football World Cup 2018 took place from 14 June – 15 July 2018.
    During this period, the NSPCC helpline responded to 1,060 contacts about domestic abuse – an increase of 33% on the 2018/19 monthly average of 799.
    Childline provided 316 counselling sessions about domestic abuse over the same period – an increase of 17% on the 2018/19 monthly average of 269.