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Epidemiology of football injuries
Linköping University, Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, Division of Preventive and Social Medicine and Public Health Science. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2008 (English)In: Science & sports, ISSN 0765-1597, Vol. 23, no 2, 73-77 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


The overall aim of this on-going injury study is to increase the safety in football.

Study design

Prospective cohort survey


The study population consisted of two cohorts: The UEFA Champions League (UCL) cohort and the Swedish Superleague cohort. The UEFA Champions League (UCL) cohort with 17 teams from 9 countries was followed over five consecutive seasons (2001 to 2006). The Swedish Super-league with 14 teams was followed for two full consecutive seasons (2001 and 2002). Exposure for training and matches in the club and in national teams was registered in minutes for each player. The team doctor reported all injuries causing the player to miss at least one match or training session. The study follows the consensus on methods for studies on football injuries agreed upon by FIFA and UEFA.


Totally 6300 injuries have been registered during 800.000 hours of exposure. The incidence of injury at top level football is 6-9 injuries/1000 hours of total exposure (3-5 injuries/1000 training hours and 24-30 injuries/1000 matchhours). As a mean, a team of 25 players can expect 40-50 injuries per season, half of them causing absence less than a week but 6-p of them causing absence more than a month. The risk of injury has not increased during the 5-year period. Thigh muscle injury is the most common injury at top level with an injury incidence of 1.6/1000 hours of exposure, which means that a team can expect 10 such injuries each season.  The risk of ankle sprain has been reduced by 50%, probably due to the thorough knowledge in top-level teams about optimal treatment and prevention. A correlation has been found between major injuries (causing absence > 4 weeks) and performance. There is a considerable variation in the number of matches played per season in European professional leagues. Top level players are obliged to play many matches, especially during the final period of the season. A correlation was found between many matches at the end of a season and  an increased injury risk and/or underperformance during subsequent world tournaments


The injury risk has not increased in male professional football during recent years.  At elite level, the risk of ankle sprain has been lowered and thigh muscle strain is the most common injury. A period with a congested match calendar can lead to fatigue, increasing the risk of injury and poor performance during the following period.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 23, no 2, 73-77 p.
Keyword [en]
Football, epidemiology, soccer, injury risk, professional level
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-17251DOI: 10.1016/j.scispo.2007.10.012OAI: diva2:207769
Original Publication:Jan Ekstrand, Epidemiology of football injuries, 2008, Science and Sports, (23), 2, 73-77. Elsevierwww.elsevier.comAvailable from: 2009-03-12 Created: 2009-03-12 Last updated: 2009-03-12Bibliographically approved

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