Sexual violence – study provides figures from club sport for the first time

“Club sport is just as affected by violence as other areas of society. We cannot pretend that club sport is a nuisance-free, non-discriminatory, yes exclusively beautiful place.”, says Bettina Rulofs. The sports sociologist from the Bergische Universität Wuppertal is one of the study directors.

A good two thirds of the respondents stated that they had experienced some form of sexualized border violations, harassment and violence in the club at least once.

In detail this means:

  • Almost a fifth have experienced unwanted sexual contact or actions in connection with club sport.
  • A quarter of the respondents reported offensive remarks or unwanted text or picture messages.
  • Six out of ten people were insulted or threatened in club sports, four out of ten, or 37 percent, were even shaken or beaten.

At first glance, these numbers sound alarming. Marc Allroggen explains “that we have a high degree of overlap between experiences of violence within the sports context and at the same time outside the sports context.” This means that experiences of violence are made in sport in the same way as in other areas of society.

At the same time mostly good experiences in club sports “

At the same time, the majority of those questioned had, according to the information, had mostly good experiences in club sport. At first glance, that seems illogical. Marc Allroggen from Ulm University Hospital explains: “Sport has many positive aspects and it is therefore possible that these negative experiences are rated significantly lower in relation to the positive experiences in sport.”

In a further sub-study, the researchers asked 300 sports organizations, i.e. city and district sports associations and professional associations, about how they deal with the topic of sexual violence in sports.

“Of the more than 300 sports associations that we surveyed, almost all of the associations surveyed stated that they consider the prevention of violence in general, but also the prevention of sexual violence in particular, to be relevant.“In the opinion of sports sociologist Bettina Rulofs, this could mean that the associations also carry this attitude to the grassroots, ie into the clubs.

More than half of the associations stated that they had in-depth knowledge of preventing sexualised violence. Contact persons on the topic are named and training courses are held. Certificates of good conduct would also be viewed.

However, only a tenth of the associations analyzed the risk factors for attacks in their own organization. Concepts for dealing with cases are also rarely available. And, according to their own statements, the associations also need support in dealing with specific cases.

Data should help to develop new protective measures

According to Bettina Rulofs, the aim of the investigation is “To continue to support the associations with their protective measures and the development of preventive measures with the data available. That means, with the help of the findings from the study, we try again to make targeted suggestions to organized sport and also to sports policy.”

The Landessportbund NRW carried out the study “SafelyImSport” initiated and financed. Ten other state sports federations joined for the part of the online survey of the club members. Only five state sports federations took part in the review of their own preventive measures.

Martin Wonik from the State Sports Association of North Rhine-Westphalia sees the study as an overdue step, “because more precise knowledge can bring us tremendously further along a path that has long been taken.”

Thomas Härtel from the Landessportbund Berlin rates it similarly: “As the State Sports Association of Berlin, we took part in the study because we need transparency in order to know where we need to take more targeted countermeasures and what further measures are necessary.”

Reinhard Rawe from Lower Saxony explained that his association took part in the study, among other things, in order to receive further impulses for the work on the subject of protection from sexualised violence.

The team around Bettina Rulofs and Marc Allroggen also presented figures on sexual violence in competitive sports five years ago.

A higher prevalence in competitive sports “

“Based on this large sample of over 4,000 respondents in club sport, we can now see that such experiences of violence, whether they concern sexual violence or emotional injury and violence, occur in both areas, in other words in popular sport as in competitive sport. We see, however, a higher prevalence in competitive sport. “ Sports sociologist Bettina Rulofs draws first insights from the comparison of the two surveys.

Stand: 04.11.2021, 19:43

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Sexual violence – study provides figures from club sport for the first time