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ACL Injuries In Women's Soccer

Written By: Emma Dowsett

Edited By: Sarah Wingo

With the Women's World Cup coming up in July and August there is a lot of buzz surrounding the sport. After such a successful UEFA Women’s Euro last summer, record attendance numbers at league games, and the first-ever Women's Finalissima back in April, the anticipation continues to build for the summer. However, the excitement has been tainted by the recent loss of many essential and crucial players due to injuries.

Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer

Portland Thorns and Canadian national team player, Janine Beckie is one of the many players who recently suffered a ruptured ACL and will miss the NWSL season and the chance to represent her country in the World Cup. England and Arsenal players, Leah Willamson and Beth Mead will also miss the upcoming World Cup, as well as Netherlands national team forward, Vivianne Miedema, who tore her ACL back in December.

Female athletes are six times more likely to tear their ACLs than their male counterparts. With very little research surrounding the cause of high probability ACL injuries in women, the thought of possible injury is always in the back of players’ minds. Some say that menstrual cycles may have an effect on the rate of injury as well as the fact that a woman’s pelvis is typically wider which in turn puts more stress on the soft tissue that supports joints. Meaning the extra stress of that tissue can lead to long-term or sudden injury.

While there is still more medical research that needs to be done regarding these injuries, there is still more research that needs to be done within the sport to prevent injuries from happening. Not only are women lacking substantive medical research regarding injury prevention in comparison to men, but they are also facing unfair standards within the sport. Although the game schedules in women’s soccer are beginning to look more like the men's, the resources, facilities, and even the pitches are not up to standards. Earlier this season, a game between Liverpool and Chelsea was called off five minutes into the match because of poor pitch quality, which had been previously questioned by team members and spectators prior to kick-off. Even soccer cleats are made and designed for male players, meaning the proper support needed for female athletes is not at the forefront of the designer’s mind during the development of cleats.

Credit: Logan Beerman

USWNT and Angel City FC forward Christen Press is racing with time in order to get ready to play in this summer's World Cup. The 34-year-old injured her ACL in 2022 and has had a long recovery after revealing that she needed three knee surgeries in eight months. She is on the long list of athletes whose World Cup availability is still to be determined.

ACL injuries do not only affect professional athletes but many young girls have also had their playing careers cut short due to injury. With injury, also comes the fear of making the decision to continue playing after recovery and the potential of additional injury. ACL injuries are a significant issue that female athletes have dealt with for a long time. Although research continues to be done, there are still not enough answers to the question of why female athletes are more prone to ACL injuries and what can be done to limit them.

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