Beth Mead calls for large-scale study of ACL injury prevalence

Beth Mead hopes the anterior cruciate ligament injuries she and partner Vivianne Miedema suffered can be the “kick in the ass” women’s football needs to take a closer look at the frequency of these injuries.

Mead was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2022 on Wednesday night after scoring the top score in England’s women’s Euro success this summer.

However, she faces a race against time to be fit for the Lionesses at next year’s World Cup after suffering an ACL injury in a game for Arsenal against Manchester United last month.

Her Gunners team-mate Miedema suffered the same injury in a Champions League game last week, with Spanish superstar Alexia Putellas also missing the Euros with an ACL injury.

Mead was asked if there was a need for a large study on this topic and he replied, “I would say yes. I think something, anything (that would be nice), and it doesn’t seem like much is going on.

“Unfortunately it happened to us, but hopefully it can kickstart someone to keep going (and) start doing something.

“If you look, it’s 50% of the top 10 (of) the Ballon d’Or (vote) who made it or something stupid like that, so you have to look at that I think. I consider myself a pretty tough, but it still happened. You look at Viv, she’s a pretty tough player and we haven’t usually been hurt, so I think we need to look into that more.

“I think if it happened with a Messi, a Ronaldo, a Griezmann, there will probably be a lot more to do when these things happen.”

In fact, five of the top 16 in this year’s Ballon d’Or vote are at some stage in their rehabilitation from ACL injuries, but nonetheless the frequency of those injuries is of concern to the Football Association.

An FA spokesperson said a study of the prevalence of ACL injuries in women’s football had been carried out over the past four seasons.

“The study showed that the overall incidence of ACL injuries reported by Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship teams was 0.1 injuries per 1,000 hours,” the spokesperson said.

“This included 0.4 ACL injury per 1,000 game hours and 0.04 ACL injury per 1,000 training hours. ACL injuries account for 1.3% of total injuries in the top two tiers of women’s football in England, with hamstring injuries being the most common at 11%.

“The overall injury rate in these leagues has gone down over the past four seasons; however, we will continue our injury and illness monitoring work, which will continue to give us important medical information about women’s football.

Mead and Miedema pictured on crutches on the red carpet ahead of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony (David Davies/PA)

The rate was half that found in a Swedish study of women’s football and comparable to match injury rates in men’s football.

Mead says she and Miedema are happy to participate in any study on this issue.

“There’s a lot going on with the players and I think it’s something that needs to be looked at, and something I’d like to push forward – I have plenty of time to do that now,” he said. she declared.

“Me and Viv would really like to get involved and spread it around a bit, hopefully we can look at some things and it would be a positive use of our time.”

England manager Sarina Wiegman said: “We talk about it all the time and we have to find a way to let the game develop and look at the schedule.

Sarina Wiegman says it's important to get the big picture of ACL injuries

Sarina Wiegman says it’s important to have an overview of ACL injuries (David Davies/PA)

“We also have commercial things so I don’t think it’s that easy to change schedules, but we have to find a way because now we have too many injuries.

“We also need to look at who has an ACL, what is their program, what does it look like, get the big picture in order to get the right results from this research. FIFA, UEFA and the federations must do something about this.

“There hasn’t been a lot of research into women’s football. Women are built differently to men, the hips and knees are different, the angles are different. There’s a lot of research into men’s football, not into women’s soccer.”

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