Last year saw a dramatic uptick in ACL tears in women’s football, and that trend has continued this year as the 2023 Women’s World Cup gets closer.
In the past few weeks, England captain and defender Leah Williamson unfortunately joined the group of players who will be missing the World Cup due to an ACL injury and her Arsenal teammate Laura Wienroither went down during Monday’s Champions League semifinal with another no-contact knee injury. .
Two-time Ballon D’or winner Alexia Putellas was one of the victims of last year’s worrisome ACL injury trend, tearing her ACL in July 2022 on the eve of the European Championships. This past weekend, she made her much anticipated return to the pitch post-injury for Barcelona. Putellas talked with FIFPRO this week about the importance of improving conditions for women’s footballers amidst all of the ACL injuries:
“The conclusion that I’ve drawn from this injury, from the experience that I’ve had recently, is that it’s a multi-factorial injury. I don’t think it’s a question of one factor. I don’t attribute it to the fact that there is a lack of study. It’s an injury that can depend on many things. That’s why it’s so important to improve the conditions for women’s players: rest, travel, the surfaces on which they play and, of course, all those studies. It is only relatively recently that women’s players have started to become professionals in this sport, and there has hardly been time to carry out these types of studies and learn a little more about the body of women’s footballers or women’s athletes because it is clear that it’s a different body to a man’s. I think these are things that need to be improved.”
After tearing her ACL in a preseason match with the Portland Thorns, Canadian Janine Beckie came out and spoke with Reuters this past week too:
“I think that a lot of people have boiled it down for so long to ‘Oh, it’s just more common in women, and a common injury in women’s soccer.’ but it seems like there’s been this massive jump in the amount that it’s happening now. I don’t know what the reason is but someone needs to figure it out.”
Further investment in studies for the prevention of knee-injuries and the implementation of the findings will be key for women’s soccer to continue to grow. With the number of big name players set to miss the pinnacle of the sport in this summer’s World Cup, it’s clear that change is needed.