Women's World Cup rosters are without their stars due to ACL-related injuries
The GIST: Women’s soccer is facing an ACL epidemic. Numerous stars have been left off WWC rosters this year due to ACL injuries, illuminating a dark side of the rapidly-growing, yet underfunded, sport.
The context: The list of major ACL–related absences is long — USWNT stars Christen Press and Catarina Macario, three English starters including captain Leah Williamson, and Netherlands superstar Vivianne Miedema are not available for the tourney. Yikes.
- Not only are the teams missing these players on the field, but their absence can also hurt the game off the field — it’s more difficult to leverage the game’s popularity and attract sponsorship when the tournament is missing the WWC–promised best of the best.
The why: While slight anatomic differences are a potential contributing factor, some believe women’s soccer’s inability to keep up with itself may be a bigger issue. The growth of the sport is positive on many levels, but can be disastrous without corresponding increases in safety measures.
- New investment in the sport has led to more opportunities to play (i.e. longer schedules), but doesn’t necessarily translate to consistent access to medical staff and trainers or high-quality fields and facilities.
Zooming out: Rising popularity is no longer good enough for women’s sports. While equal ratings, exposure, and marketing are all necessary steps in the right direction, the recent slew of ACL injuries in women’s soccer illustrates the importance of providing women athletes with the same resources as men. Player safety depends on it.
- The women’s soccer resource gap could be filled through meaningful and thoughtful sponsorships, similar to the way the WNBA and LPGA continue exploring ways to provide other health-related resources to players.