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ACL Injuries continues to terrorise Women's game! But Why?

ACL injuries have become a rampant terror in the women's game. An injury that was once an infrequent shock to the footballing world has now taken women's football as its latest victim. The term 'ACL' is short for Anterior Cruciate Ligament which is a ligament in the knee that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone. This serious injury mostly affects athletes and boils down to constant directional changes, sudden stoppages, collisions or bad landings and female footballers are being taken out one by one by this horrible injury. However, the question everyone keeps asking is why? Why are we seeing uneven parallels between female footballers and male footballers when it comes to ACL injuries? Why does it seem that every week we are learning of top female athletes tearing their ACL in football?

According to ACL Womens Football Club, between January 2022 and December 2023 there were 306 confirmed ACL injuries in the top leagues in the world. There was a whopping 145 in 2022 and 161 in 2023. In the month of January there have been 11 reported ACL injuries in the women’s game, two of the most notable names being Australia and Chelsea forward Sam Kerr and The Netherlands and Manchester City's Jill Roord. This highlights the monster that this injury is to women's football and how it is inflicting the women's game indiscriminately. With the growing numbers there has been an outcry from players, clubs and even fans for this to be researched and there have been many different factors that seem to impact the amount of ACL injuries.

One factor many have raised as an explanation for the adverse number of ACLs is football boots. Football boots are created with male anatomy in mind and many female footballers have complained about discomfort when wearing them. In fact 82% of female footballers have complained about the regular discomfort they experience when wearing them, which has caused companies to start creating boots that would be better suited to female footballers. Nike recently released the Nike Phantom Luna boots, which was moulded with female anatomy in mind and is meant to be much more comfortable. However, we have still seen ACLs occur since the introduction of these boots, Jill Roord who is a Nike athlete was wearing a pair of Nike Phantom Luna's when she unfortunately tore her ACL.

Yet you could point to the playing conditions that female footballers are expected to participate on. Although in the WSL we have seen changes in locations for womens football due to demand and cries for better pitch conditions, in previous seasons certain games were played on pitches with despicable standards. Tottenham Hotspurs WFC for example play at Leyton Orient's ground and has been heavily criticised for the poor conditions of the pitch. With female players being exposed to these awful conditions, it comes to no surprise that the weight of ACL injuries is suffocating women's football. Their male counterparts are ensured the best 4G pitches, that are tended to with the utmost care, whereas female football is placed on neglectful pitches that does not help to lessen the chances of such a serious injury.

Overall, there are many debatable reasons as to why ACLs are hitting the female footballing world hard but without adequate research this will still remain a looming unknown issue. However, you can't rule out the some of the factors that sets women's football back when trying to protect players against such a serious injury. Terrible pitches, football boots that don't fit and hectic schedules do not help when trying to prevent this injury and until there is adequate action taken, we will unfortunately see more of the top players fall victim to this season ending affliction.

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