Status: 01/10/2023 1:31 p.m

    In women’s soccer, cruciate ligament ruptures are increasing, and some even speak of an “injury crisis”. Criticism is now that the players in the calendar are too busy – but it is still being filled.

    The fact that Alexia Putellas missed the EM 2022 was the most important failure of the tournament. A few days before the first group game in early July, she tore her cruciate ligament in training and she has yet to return.

    Other stars followed, suffering serious injuries. Beth Mead, one of the defining players of the European Championship, also suffered a cruciate ligament rupture in November 2022. National players like Vivanne Miedema (Netherlands), Giulia Gwinn, Jennifer Marozsan (both Germany), Hanna Glas (Sweden), Catarina Macário (USA) and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (France) suffered the same injury in 2022.

    Sarina Wiegman, coach of the English national team, sees the cause in the stress. “In general, the schedule for the top players at the highest level is too much”she said in late December. “After the EURO, for example, the Manchester City players only had a few days off because they had to play in the Champions League. That’s not good. FIFA, UEFA and the associations have to do better. We have to reach out to the players think.”

    England manager Sarina Wiegman

    Mead: ‘More would have been done if it was about Messi, Ronaldo or Griezmann’

    One of the women concerned doubts that the players are being considered. Beth Mead pointed out that the top two finishers for the Ballon d’Or are now female, as well as other nominees among the injured. “I think if it was about Messi, Ronaldo or Griezmann, a lot more would probably have been done. We’re resilient players who haven’t been badly hit by injuries across the board.”she said. “We need to take a closer look at that.” She now wants to advance this and is calling for a study to be carried out.

    England international Beath Mead injured on the ground.

    According to the German national goalkeeper Almuth Schult, there is still a lot of catching up to do in research. “Sports science has to do more here”says Schult in an interview with Sportschu. “Most of the existing studies deal with men.” Previous scientific findings show that women have a significantly higher risk than men of suffering a cruciate ligament rupture in football. Exploring physical limits and differences as well as the reactions to them will now also take time.

    FIFPRO: The women’s system has to grow with them

    For FIFAPRO, the international players’ union, there is another problem in addition to the calendar design and the state of research. “Women’s football is growing, but support systems are not growing with it”, says General Secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann in an interview with the sports show. While many things are being adjusted at the tournaments, the gap in medical care, for example, is still wide.

    And that despite the fact that the burden on some players has increased significantly. “A small group of top-level women players now have the same burden as top-level men’s players”says Baer-Hoffmann. “Another group of players are under that kind of pressure, at least part of the time. If you can’t play in the best conditions then that’s a problem.” And at the same time the calendar fills up.

    FIFA and UEFA: More and more games for women too

    The international associations are also trying to increase marketing and sales for women. The World Cup was enlarged from 2023, the Olympic tournament was expanded from 2024, a Nations League was introduced in Europe from 2023 and also a group phase in the Champions League since 2021. “In addition, there are the youth tournaments, in which many senior national players also take part at a young age.”, says Schult. Many of the measures make sense from a sporting, economic and organizational point of view – but the health consequences for the players remain. “The Champions League has changed a lot noticeably”says Schult. “There is a much higher level right from the start, there are other conditions that make themselves felt.”

    The Olympic tournament is also much more important for women than for men. In contrast to the men, there is an obligation for women to be released, the big stars always play in the Olympics. Due to the Corona postponements, the top players with the European Championship 2022, the World Cup 2023, the Olympic Games 2024 and the European Championship 2025 have to do without a summer off for years.

    “Crazy” Bayern Munich coach Alexander Straus called this process at a press conference in December and added: “You have to focus on the people, the players, you have to protect them.” FIFA President Gianni Infantino also announced at the end of the 2022 men’s World Cup that there would be a women’s Club World Cup in the future. Chelsea and Sweden player Magda Eriksson said so in a guest post for iNews “alarming that the players are not heard. It came out of nowhere”.

    FIFPRO: No consultation from FIFA

    FIFPRO also takes this position. She criticized FIFA in a statement for “unilateral decisions”. Just five days before the Club World Cup was announced, FIFA had announced an agreement to involve the union in decision-making processes.

    For women, the international game calendar that has been decided so far ends in 2023 (men in 2024) and must be renegotiated. FIFA announced that it would keep the basic principle until 2025 – without consultation, as FIFPRO complained.