Women's World Cup: A flurry of knee injuries is undermining women's football

Sports News
2023-07-13 | 03:45
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Women's World Cup: A flurry of knee injuries is undermining women's football
Women's World Cup: A flurry of knee injuries is undermining women's football

The return of Spanish national team star Alexia Putellas at the right time means that the best player on this planet will participate in the Women's World Cup, but a group of prominent names will be absent from the Australia and New Zealand tournament due to serious knee injuries.

Putellas (29) missed last year's European Championship in England after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.

She spent more than nine months out of the field, but she retained the Women's Ballon d'Or and the Best Women's Player award at the FIFA Awards during her absence before returning in April.

Putellas then played a role in Barcelona's recent victory in the UEFA Women's Champions League, and she returned to the Spanish national team in time to participate in the World Cup.

However, Putellas is considered one of the fortunate players. The United States team, for example, suffered the loss of Mallory Swanson due to a torn patellar tendon in her left knee, while midfielder Catarina Macario did not recover in time from an anterior cruciate ligament tear.

England, the reigning European champions, lost the services of star forward Beth Mead and defender Leah Williamson, the captain of the "Lionesses," as they recover from anterior cruciate ligament tears.

Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema, who is prolific in scoring, and her Arsenal teammate, Mid, will also be absent due to the same injury that kept them away from the field since December last year.

The hopes of the French women suffered a setback with the loss of Delphine Cascarino, the best player in the French women's league last season, due to a partial tear in the right anterior cruciate ligament.

Strong forward Marie-Antoinette Katoto did not join the French national team after missing last season due to a knee injury as well.

The Canadian women's team, the holders of the Olympic gold, lost the services of Janine Beckie, a former Manchester City player who currently plays for the Portland Thorns in the United States.

"Greater Danger" -
The World Cup will lose some of its luster without them, and the issue of absences has led to self-searching regarding the causes of these injuries.
Putellas said in an interview with the International Federation of Professional Players (FIFPro), "It's an injury that can depend on many things."

She added, "It is relatively recent that women entered the world of professionalism, and there was not enough time to conduct similar studies and learn more about the bodies of female football players."

The players did not suddenly become prone to knee injuries that could keep them out for several months.

Scottish knee surgeon Gordon MacKay told Agence France-Presse, "The fact that females are at greater risk than males who play football has been recognized for a long time."

He added that this "is due to several factors, but there are many things that contribute to the risk," noting the need to train on proper surfaces and equip specialized shoes for women.

MacKay estimated the rate of anterior cruciate ligament injuries in female players to be "at least four times, and perhaps six times" that of males, considering the shape of the pelvis as a contributing factor as well.

Hormonal changes related to the menstrual period have also been mentioned as factors that may increase the risks.

MacKay added that it is "very difficult to deal with the fact that there is a slight difference between the sexes in terms of mechanics and biology."

Therefore, the focus is on prevention.

One recent study conducted by researchers in England suggested that kits, balls, and shoes should be better designed for women to improve safety on the field.

Sportswear giant Adidas, one of the main suppliers of national team kits in the World Cup, said it is taking the issue "very seriously."

Adidas told AFP, "We have a long-standing tradition of designing products by and for athletes."

They added that "collaboration ensures that our products are designed for women, from the concept to the testing phase."

Injury Pain and Absence -
The highly anticipated Women's World Cup, which will take place in Australia and New Zealand on July 20, will be the first to feature 32 teams, as the sport continues to grow for women.
It is sad that such a significant month for women's football passes without the presence of several big names.

Former English player and Head of Strategy and Research at FIFPro, Alex Scott, considered that "the absence of the best players continuously on the field, especially during the major moments that the sport should present, also affects our ability to continuously benefit from its increasing popularity."

As for the absent players themselves, the pain of the injury may be comparable to the pain of watching without being able to participate.

Beckie told Canadian radio station TSN 690, "It's difficult to see all the excitement around the tournament. I'm really excited for the tournament and all the amazing players who have this stage to showcase their talents, but at the same time, it's hard to grasp that I won't be there."

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