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FIFPRO, PFA England, Nike & Leeds Beckett University launch project to reduce ACL injuries in women’s football


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  • Three-year ‘Project ACL’, aiming to reduce injuries, is launching today
  • Study will focus on players at Women’s Super League clubs in England
  • Project partners will then develop best practice for players worldwide

FIFPRO, the Professional Footballers Association, Nike, and Leeds Beckett University are collaborating to accelerate research into reducing Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries and increasing player availability.

The partners of Project ACL, which is launching today, will work proactively with clubs and players in the FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) to better understand their current working environment, identify best practice and provide solutions to support the reduction of ACL injuries.

ACL injuries are two to six times more likely to occur in women than men, and about two-thirds of ACL injuries occur in women’s football when there is no physical contact, according to research. However, there is little understanding about how to reduce these injuries in professional women footballers, with most existing research and injury reduction programmes to date focusing on amateur players.

FIFPRO Project ACL Banner (2)

Project ACL will take the following steps: 

  • A review of existing academic research related to professional women’s football, ACL injuries and existing injury reduction programs.

  • A needs assessment of the multidisciplinary teams and structures of the 12 FA WSL clubs to better understand their resources and access to facilities.

  • Real-time tracking of the workload, travel and ‘critical zone’ appearances of FA WSL players through the FIFPRO Player Workload Monitoring tool.

Over the course of the three-year project, the partners will translate the optimum techniques and academic findings into clear strategies to support clubs and players to introduce best practice related to increasing player availability across the FA WSL. 

Project ACL will benefit not only English football but also players, clubs, and competitions around the world: FIFPRO and the project partners will make their findings available to all football stakeholders including FIFA and regional confederations.

'The players have called for more research' 

Dr Alex Culvin, FIFPRO’s Head of Strategy and Research for Women’s Football, said: "The players have rightly called for more research into ACL injury, and Project ACL is a response to both their needs and those of the industry more broadly. What makes this project stand out is it focuses on players in professional women’s football, and benefits from the collaboration of a wide range of stakeholders coming together and collaborating."

Maheta Molango, CEO of the Professional Footballers Association, said: "First and foremost, we view ACL injuries as being about the welfare of our members. As their union, it's right that we take a proactive role in helping to improve understanding of the issue and ensuring that the care provided for players in the women's game is focused on their unique needs as footballers. This project marks a significant step towards building player-generated insights to best protect its players from ACL injury."

Dr. Stacey Emmonds, Reader in Sports Performance at Leeds Beckett University, said: "Most of the research to date on ACL injury has focused on single sex-based risk factors like the mechanics of female bodies. Our research will look at the bigger picture to consider the gendered environmental factors that may influence injury risk in women's professional football."