Women’s football kit could be causing injury, new report finds

 (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Women’s football has soared in popularity in the UK recently, largely due to England’s Lionesses’ Euros 2022 triumph in the summer.

But despite that glorious success, doubts have been raised about the safety of the beautiful game for females.

Sports scientists have found that most football kits are not suited to women’s bodies, potentially causing a high risk of injury.

Writing in the journal Sports Engineering and published in Springer, they said that items such as boots and balls were created for male players.

The experts believe knee-ligament injuries are the biggest cause for concern due to this trend. They cite the fact that no large boot manufacturers are willing to invest in a new design better suited to women.

The researchers, comprising doctors and staff involved in women’s sport, highlighted the need for more kit and technology better tailored to both women’s needs and body shape.

After undertaking the study with the help of Lionesses star Leah Williamson, they stressed the need for players to have specific equipment to help optimise their performance. They also want to ensure women’s safety on the pitch.

“We wish to highlight the progressions made so far and barriers remaining in the elite women’s football technology to shed a light on this topic and prod researchers and manufacturers to help support the evolution of women’s-football-focussed technological considerations,” the researchers wrote.

The issues raised in the report include:

  • Religious considerations (hijab designs)

  • Sports bras

  • Football boots

  • Balls

  • Football pitches

  • Performance-tracking devices

  • Menstrual cycle tracking devices

Report author, Dr Katrine Okholm Kryger, who is a senior lecturer in sports rehabilitation at St Mary’s University, said that women’s feet greatly differed from men’s. As such, she said their risk of injury from ill-fitting boots was increased.

Alongside foot injuries and foot deformation, the report found that blisters and stress fractures were also commonplace.

Dr Kryger told Sky News that “we know that women have a two to five times higher risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries”.

She said she and her fellow researchers were therefore hoping to “kindly nudge manufacturers and research towards the need to pay more attention in this area”.