2010 World Cup Injury Statistics – Is the World Cup Dangerous?

By on June 18, 2014

With the 2014 World Cup kicking off in Brazil this summer, we’re all willing for victory and the players are no exception. This is when the stakes are at their highest, glory is in their sights and they’ll stop at nothing to get there. But, have you ever considered that all this passion and enthusiasm might actually make World Cup matches more dangerous?

Studies have shown that there are significantly more injuries during World Cup tournaments than any other matches. What’s more, the injuries increase in severity, with more fractures, ligament ruptures and strains and fewer contusions. In the 2010 World Cup, 71% of injuries occurred from contact between players and 47% of these were due to foul play; higher figures than for non-World Cup matches. Furthermore, a study by Jung et al demonstrated that 90% of players were prepared to intentionally commit a foul depending on the score and importance of the match. So with the excitement and importance of the World Cup, players might be putting each other at risk of injury with an increase in the number of fouls per match having been shown to be associated with an increase in injuries.

It’s not all bad news however, since overall injury numbers have been gradually decreasing since the 1998 World Cup although this is not the case for the women’s World Cups. This has been attributed to more relaxed refereeing and a change in playing style with increased contact between players. Despite the increase in women’s World Cup matches over time, it’s still much more risky for male players and perhaps this is because of the amount of contact! A change in playing style would certainly reduce the number of injuries, but this is unlikely, especially with the trend of Women’s matches to increased contact.

There are a myriad of things that put players at risk of injury including having a previous injury, being a forward or defender and being tackled from the side or behind, which actually doubles the risk of needing post-match medical attention. However, the World Cup matches have their own specific risks aside from the increased willingness of players to commit fouls. For example, the high number of matches played has been shown to be a risk factor. Overall, serious injuries in other tournaments have averaged 1-1.5, whereas in World Cups, the average is 3.

With all this in mind, it’s easy to see how this increased risk of injury during the World Cup could significantly affect the outcome of matches! So this year we’re hoping to see strict refereeing, clamping down on players and teams most willing to commit fouls and managers being cautious about allowing players with previous injuries on the pitch. A strong, healthy team with all it’s players surely has a better chance of victory

Have a look at Apostherapy infographic about 2010 World Cup injuries for more information.

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