Major project launches to combat ACL injuries among women footballers

A three-year study to learn more about ACL injuries in women’s football has been launched with the aim of reducing them.

The global union for footballers, FIFPRO, has launched Project ACL to examine all factors that lead to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries that disrupt the careers of so many women footballers.

The union cites existing research that shows women footballers are two to six times more likely to injure their ACLs than male players.

Overall, 37 players missed the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup due to ACL injuries. High-profile players to have suffered the injury include Football Ferns and A-League players.

Main photo: Football Fern Grace Wisnewski suffered an ACL injury playing for the Wellington Phoenix in November 2023, ending her season.

READ MORE: Phoenix midfielder Grace Wisnewski on her road to recovery >>>>

About two-thirds of the women’s ACL injuries happen when there is no physical contact, research shows.

FIFPRO, who represent about 65,000 professional players, will work with England’s Professional Footballers Association, Nike and Leeds Beckett University on Project ACL.

Why Project ACL has been launched

Project ACL will work with the 12 clubs and approximately 300 players in the England FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) “to better understand their current working environment, identify best practice and provide solutions to support the reduction of ACL injuries.”

More than half of WSL clubs have already agreed to participate.

Researchers will study the impact of workload, training and travel loads, the environment and playing conditions and the impact of female-specific football boots, but it will not look at the physiological differences between male and female athletes.

The research outcomes will be shared internationally with FIFA and national bodies.

“Most of the research to date on ACL injury in women has focused on single sex-based risk factors like the mechanics of female bodies,” said Stacey Emmonds, reader in sports performance at Leeds Beckett University.

“The research in Project ACL will look at the bigger picture to consider the gendered environmental factors that may influence injury risk in women’s professional football.”

Leeds Beckett University has been researching aspects of the women’s game for more than five years.

More about Project ACL

The following story was broadcast by UK Sky Sports News on May 1, 2024:

Special feature: Understanding the impact of ACL injuries

Friends of Football writer Joan Grey researched ACL injuries before the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup after a series of such injuries to top women players. Here’s her two-part feature …

Part One: Solving the mystery

Part Two: How to reduce the risks

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