It’s the winning, not the taking part

The risk of violence after major sporting events is greater if the team has won the game, researchers at Cardiff University’s Dental School have discovered.

The researchers base their findings on the numbers of people requiring emergency medical treatment for assault at the time of international rugby and football matches in Cardiff.

The research team tracked the number of assault cases presenting to Cardiff’s Accident and Emergency department at the University Hospital of Wales between May 1995 and April 2002.

During this time, 106 Wales international home and away matches took place – 74 rugby matches and 32 football matches with almost 27,000 cases of assault requiring emergency treatment over the same period. On average, there were 30 cases of assault requiring medical attention on the day of the match and the day after. On days where no match had been played, the average assault cases fell to 21.

When Wales won its matches, the average number of assault injuries seen was 33; when Wales lost, the average dropped to 25. Whether the matches were played home or away had little impact on the rates. It was the result and match attendance that mattered.

The number of assault injuries was also around a third higher at weekends when matches were played than at weekends when there were no matches.

“These analyses suggest that assault may not be the result of negative factors associated with a national team losing, but the result of a positive event (winning),” said Dr Vas Sjvarajasingam of the Dental School’s Violence Research Group.

A win may also boost levels of self-confidence, assertiveness or patriotism, all of which might lead to violence, the researchers add. Other research shows that domestic violence is more likely when the male assailant’s local team wins.

Dr Sjvarajasingam added: “Winning is also likely to be associated with the celebratory downing of alcohol, a factor that is well known to increase the risk of violence.”

From Cardiff University

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