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UEFA take steps to fight ACL injuries in women’s football

The European governing body has confirmed a new initiative centred around awareness and prevention of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries.

Rostock (Germany), 01/12/2023.- Denmark's Sofie Svava (down) reacts during the UEFA Women's Nations League soccer match Germany vs Denmark in Rostock, Germany, 01 December 2023. (Dinamarca, Alemania) EFE/EPA/CLEMENS BILAN

UEFA have announced new initiative focused on raising awareness and preventing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in female footballers. Latest reports from Barcelona based Cugat Institute suggest that women are four times more likely to suffer from this particular injury compared to their male counterparts from the age 14, coinciding with the hormonal changes inherent in puberty.

European football’s governing body are now concerned about the increasing number of female players seeing carrer’s halted from ACL problems and have kick-started the programme with the creation of an anterior cruciate ligament injury awareness questionnaire aimed at everyone in the women’s football community, with the aim of collecting more knowledge and address the unique needs of each segment.

UEFA claim that the long-term goal is to publish a consensus on the prevention and treatment of ACL injuries by the summer of 2024, in addition to an updated injury prevention program. The consensus will provide evidence-based guidelines on topics ranging from ACL injury prevention and common risk factors to injury mechanisms and optimal return-to-play strategies. designed specifically for women’s football.

In the Spanish League alone, according to data collected by AS, in 2022, 19 women suffered ACL tears: Alexia Putellas, Jana Fernández, Cata Coll, Tere Morató and Bárbara Latorre were some of those high profile stars affected last year. 2023 has also seen the like of Scotland and Real Madrid’s Caroline Weir along with 18-year-old Carla Camacho seeing their careers curtailed with cruciate tears.

Top international stars such as Beth Mead, Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Leah Williamson have also suffered career setbacks due to ACL complications.

Leah Williamson
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Leah Williamson

Addressing the prevalence of ACL injuries in women’s football is crucial for the wellbeing of athletes and the advancement of the sport. UEFA’s proactive step in establishing a panel of experts reflects a commitment to understanding and reducing these injuries in the future. The questionnaire will aim to gather insights and current awareness, but also to collect robust data to be used as the basis of our consensus and prevention program.

The collaborative effort from the football community is extremely important, and the hope is that this initiative will foster a safer and more sustainable future for women’s football worldwide”, stated Zoran Bahtijarevic, Medical Director of UEFA.