Female soccer players suffer a higher risk of injury because their uniform and equipment have largely been designed for male players, according to a UK study conducted by sports scientists.
Dr. Katrine Okholm Kryger, the report's author, has concluded that the difference in the shape and volume of women's feet means ill-fitting cleats can pinch the feet in unwanted ways. Kryger stated that: "women have a two to five times higher risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries," a type of knee injury.
The length of the studs on soccer cleats is also reportedly designed based on the movement and traction of male players, despite women running differently.
Doctors and staff involved in the sport, as well as the current England captain Leah Williamson, have made calls for the production of equipment and a uniform specifically suited to the differing needs and body shapes of women.
Co-author of the study, Dr. Craig Rosenbloom, has also argued that the impact of improper equipment on the sport is far more severe on the women's game than with men due to the limited availability of female players.
The popularity of women's football in the UK has spiked since the victory of the Lionesses in Euro 2022. There are reports that several major manufacturers are in the process of developing cleats specific to women in time for the 2023 World Cup.
Narrative A, as provided by New Statesman. Women's soccer in the UK is going from strength to strength. Before the Euro 2022 competition, England last won a major competition fifty-six years ago, when women were still banned from playing competitively. But now everything has changed, and the power of seeing female sporting success is a triumph for gender equality and an example to younger generations. Tackling the lack of female equipment is just the latest step forward.
Narrative B, as provided by Spectator. While progress in equality for female soccer players is doubtless a positive thing, there is still barely any investment or visibility in team-based female pursuits like lacrosse or netball. Rather than trying to imitate a "male" game, we should be encouraging boys, and the country at large, to enjoy traditionally female sports and diversify investment and attention to other pursuits to make female role models more visible.