A new research project has been announced to combat the ongoing epidemic of anterior crucial ligament (ACL) injuries in professional women’s football.

FIFPRO, the Professional Footballers Association, Nike, and Leeds Beckett University have collaboratively launched Project ACL to accelerate research into ACL injuries together with the Women’s Super League.

According to Project ACL’s cited research, the injury is 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.

However, because most existing research and injury reduction programmes to date focuses on amateur players, the ACL epidemic faced by professional women’s footballers is insufficiently understood and left unaddressed. 

Pic: FIFPRO/Project ACL

Dr. Alex Culvin, FIFPRO’s Head of Strategy and Research for Women’s Football, said: “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.”

Project ACL will take steps to:

  • Review existing academic research related to professional women’s football, ACL injuries, and existing injury reduction programme
  • Conduct needs assessment of the multidisciplinary teams and structures of FA WSL clubs to better understand their resources and access to facilities. 
  • Track workload, travel and ‘critical zone’ appearances of FA WSL players through the FIFPRO Player Workload Monitoring tool.

The three-year project 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. 

The partners of the project have also committed to making their findings available to all football stakeholders including FIFA and regional confederations in order to serve the global women’s football community as a whole. 

Dr. Stacey Emmonds, Reader in Sports Performance at Leeds Beckett University, said: “Most of the research to date on ACL injury in women has focused on single sex-based risk factors like the mechanics of female bodies.

”The research in Project ACL will look at the bigger picture to consider the gendered environmental factors that may influence injury risk in women’s professional football.”

Watch the video below to find out more about Project ACL.

Featured image courtesy of Peter Glaser on Unsplash. No changes were made to this image. License details found here

By Jenny Chen

Jenny recently graduated with a double major in Political Science and in Women’s & Gender Studies. She is formerly a law exchange at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently teaching English in Spain while on her gap years before law school. Her hobbies include writing, traveling, and women’s football.