I have been approaching the forthcoming month long football fest that is the World Cup with an air of resignation. If it's not about Inverness Caley Thistle, then, frankly, my dear, I really don't give a damn and it annoys me that every four years this one sport dominates our national lives in the way that it does. It winds me up, and nobody in our house even likes the sport that much. It must be a nightmare to live with a fan who will hog the tv at all hours to watch the most insignificant matches. I really have nothing to complain about, though.
It made me sad, and furious, in equal measure to see a discussion on BBC Breakfast this morning saying that domestic violence increases by as much as 30%, or at least that's just the incidents that get as far as the Police, during this particular sports event. Apparently the peak last time round was on the day that England was knocked out.
What is it about wall to wall football that incites 70 extra men a week in Leeds to beat up their partners? That is only one city - what's it going to be like across the UK. That will an extra 70 extra women and all of their children who will be spending the World Cup living in fear. Alcohol has to be a factor - sitting around drinking beer and watching wall to wall football from morning till night troughing can after can of Stella is bound to increase the likelihood of violence. Then you see the often disgraceful on field behaviour when players, who get paid so much that anger management therapy really is within their budget, behave like two year olds having tantrums. Why is it that David Beckham kept his position as a national hero when he wasted the opportunity to represent his country by getting in a strop and kicking a member of the opposing team 12 years ago?
Add to that the really quite appalling way that many footballers treat the women in their lives - Ashley Cole, that would be you I'm talking about, just for starters, and you can see where this culture of violence comes from. The alcohol, the accepted anger on the field, the general attitude towards women all combine to make kindling that just requires a tiny spark - maybe a linesman having an off day, to cause an explosion which leads to a violent attack on a partner.
Many millions of people across the world will watch the World Cup and just enjoy the football. They won't get drunk and beat up their partners or children. However my thoughts will be for those families for whom the final whistle heralds a drunken, violent onslaught - and for those in the charities and the Police who will be working to support them. Is there not some role for the footballing world in all of this? Some England player could surely express horror and disappointment at the violence this tournament is known to cause and urge people to drink and behave responsibly? Maybe some sort of longer term campaign in the run up to future major football tournaments could be organised?
This week the Scottish Parliament will spend 2 and a half hours debating violence against men. Certainly that's an issue and statistics obtained by the Liberal Democrats showed last year that domestic violence against men was up by 167%, and that against women up by 40%. Those are truly shocking figures. I hope that part of that is due to more incidents being reported - I remember way back when I was involved helping a domestic violence charity that women would endure around 36 attacks before asking for help. While there does have to be help for men available, the vast majority of attacks are against women and children. With no direct involvement in the World Cup for us, there may not be such an increase in attacks over the next few weeks. However, it's an issue that should certainly be raised in the debate.