Professional football players are joining together to protect women and children at risk of domestic violence during the COVID-19 crisis.
The football organization Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) launched its third campaign with the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday to support people impacted by the pandemic. In partnership with the European Commission, the five-part #SafeHome video campaign offers advice and support for preventing and dealing with domestic violence. Fifteen former and current football players joined on to help amplify the project.
The initiative was formed in direct response to the recent uptick in domestic violence reports as stay-at-home orders to help contain the COVID-19 coronavirus have put women and children at greater risk. Social distancing makes it more difficult for women and children to seek support and protection from social services or their personal networks.
“If you are at risk from violence in your home, don’t blame yourself,” Kelly Smith, former forward with the Arsenal Women Football Club, said in one video.
Smith goes on to advise anyone at risk of domestic violence to create a code word to send family, friends, or health workers in case of an emergency. Identifying a friend or shelter to go to to escape the situation is helpful too, she said.
Please pass the message that everyone is entitled to live in a Safe Home, and has the right to live free from violence. #SafeHome#WHO#FIFA#EuropeanCommissionpic.twitter.com/dwbcq7EOXs— Kelly Smith MBE (@kelly_smith10) May 27, 2020
For those considering hurting a family member, professional football coach Graham Potter suggests walking away and taking a breath.
Former Kerala Blasters Football Club manager David James recommends anyone who thinks someone they know might be at risk of domestic violence to check in with them. He then calls for more government funding to support and fund helplines for women and children.
“We cannot stay silent on this issue that negatively affects so many people,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a news release.
“Violence has no place in homes, just as it has no place in sports.”
FIFA is calling on its member associations to review safeguarding measures and make resources for domestic violence helplines easily available.
Women and children often don’t discuss abuse because they are afraid or ashamed, according to Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth.
Almost 1 in 3 women worldwide have experienced physical and or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence and over half of all boys and girls between 2 and 17 experience some form of emotional, physical, or sexual violence every year. Stress and financial strain during a crisis can create circumstances where women and children are more at risk of domestic violence. Strict stay-at-home orders to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 means more survivors are stuck living in close quarters with abusers.
“It is our responsibility as a society, as institutions, to speak up for these women,” Gabriel said in the release. To give them trust and support them.”