Beth Mead hopes the anterior cruciate ligament damage she and her partner Vivianne Miedema have both suffered can prompt a fresh look at why this particular knee injury appears to be so prevalent in women’s football.
Mead top-scored for the England women’s team in their triumphant European Championship campaign earlier this year.
She faces a race against time to be fit for next year’s World Cup after suffering an ACL injury playing for Arsenal against Manchester United last month.
Gunners team-mate Miedema suffered the same injury in a Champions League match last week, with an ACL injury ruling Spain star Alexia Putellas out of the Euros as well.
The tendency of women across a range of sports to suffer ACL injuries has long provoked discussion, particularly in the United States.
Mead, speaking after being voted the BBC Sports Personality of the Year for 2022, was asked if a broad study was needed on why so many leading women footballers had suffered ACL injuries.
“I would say so,” she replied. “I think something, anything (would be good), and there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on.
“Unfortunately this has happened to us, but hopefully it can kick somebody up the arse to go on (and) start doing something.”
The 27-year-old added: “I see myself as quite a robust player but this has still happened. You look at Viv, she’s quite a robust player and we’ve not been players generally hit with injuries so I do think we need to look into it a lot more.”
Mead was adamant greater action would have been taken had one such injury affected as many top male footballers.
“I think if that happened with a Messi, a Ronaldo, a Griezmann, there’s probably going to be a lot more done when those things happen,” she said.
England’s governing Football Association said research into the frequency of ACL problems in women’s football had been conducted over the last four seasons.
“ACL injuries represent 1.3 percent of the total number of injuries in the top two tiers of women’s football in England, with hamstring injuries the most common at 11 percent,” said a spokesperson for the FA.
Mead said both she and Miedema would be happy to use some of their time to participate in research regarding ACL injuries in women’s football.
“Me and Viv would really like to get involved and put it out there a little bit, hopefully we can look into some stuff and it would be a positive use of our time.”
England women’s coach Sarina Wiegman said: “We talk about it (ACL injuries) all the time.”
Wiegman added: “We also have to look at who has got an ACL, what’s her programme, what does it look like, get the bigger picture so you get the right things out of this research. FIFA, UEFA and the federations have to do something about this.
“There hasn’t been that much research about women’s football. Women are built differently to men, the hips and the knees are different, the angles are different. There’s lots of research in the men’s game, not the women’s game.”
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