Beth Mead: If this happened to Messi more would be done

England international Beth Mead wants a global study into why women footballers are more susceptible to anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

n a graphic example of how the knee problem is plaguing the women’s game, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, who had surgery this month, and her partner and Arsenal team-mate Vivianne Miedema arrived at Wednesday’s event on crutches.

The attacking duo are both sidelined by ACL injuries, but they are far from alone. Of the top 16 players on this year’s Women’s Ballon d’Or shortlist, five are out with ACL injuries. In all, 10 players from the Women’s Super League are sidelined by the problem.

“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,” said England forward Mead, who suffered her injury while facing Manchester United last month.

“It’s Ballon d’Or contenders who have done it, so you have to look at that. Unfortunately, this has happened to us, but hopefully it can kick somebody into starting to do something.”

Research has suggested female players could be anything from two to eight times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than males, although the exact reasons have not been agreed, despite there being a plethora of high-profile cases.

Since the women’s Ballon d’Or award was introduced in 2018, only three individuals have won it, but all three have suffered ACL injuries at some point in their careers.

Ada Hegerberg required surgery in 2020, Megan Rapinoe suffered ACL setbacks twice prior to 2010, and current holder Alexia Putellas ruptured her ACL on the eve of July’s Euros.

Asked if she would like to see a study into the issue, Mead replied: “I would say so. I think something, anything (needs to happen), and there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on.”

England head coach Sarina Wiegman added: “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.

“We also have to look at who has got an ACL (injury), 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.” 

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]

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