Institut für Kriminologie

Violence and Aggression in (Amateur) Soccer

The Institute of Criminology collaborates with the Württembergische Soccer Association in a pilot study on violence and aggression in (amateur) soccer. The pilot study is supported by the German Football Association.

Stories about an increase in both the quantity and the quality of violence and aggression in the realm of soccer and especially in amateur soccer are making headlines on a regular basis. For practical reasons the study is primarily focused on soccer matches of the Württemberg Soccer Association (WFV). The study seeks to find out whether the frequency of violent and aggressive actions – both reported and unreported – has changed within the last couple of years and if so how. In addition to that the study also addresses the questions of whether there are specific instances of violence or aggression in the context of soccer and how instances of violence and aggression are dealt with (e.g. informal ways to resolve issues, sanctions by individual soccer clubs or associations, legal actions).

The study focuses on criminologically relevant aspects of both offenders and victims including age, sex, ethnicity, degree of professionalization of referees and players, the spectators and fans, and the sense of security of all people involved in a soccer game. Furthermore, existing concepts for prevention of violence and aggression in soccer (e.g. “wfv für Toleranz und Fairness – gegen Gewalt”, etc.) are analyzed with respect to their potential for effective prevention.

Within the course of this project, all sports court decisions which dealt with suspensions of 3 months or more in the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 seasons were analyzed. Additionally, all cases of aborted soccer matches and assaults on referees were examined. In the winter of 2011, a supplemental survey of male and female referees was conducted within the Württembergische Soccer Association. Overall, more than 2602 referees participated in the survey in which they were asked about their personal sense of safety and how they deal with reporting of instances of violence or aggression directed at them. The survey was retaken in the 2016/2017 season thereby generating longitudinal data on the referees’ sense of safety. The results of this study were published in November 2019: