Spoty winner Beth Mead calls for more research into women’s ACL injuries

England’s Euros winner Beth Mead has called for fresh research into why so many elite women footballers are suffering serious knee injuries, saying it would be taken more seriously if Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo were affected.

The 27-year-old striker ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) last month and her partner, fellow Arsenal player Vivianne Miedema, did the same in a match last week. Five of the top 20 women’s Ballon d’Or players are currently sidelined with ACL injuries, including Mead, Miedema and the world’s best player, Spain’s Alexia Putellas.

Mead said “there doesn’t seem to be a lot going on” to understand why women appear to be four to six times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than male footballers.

She added: “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.”

Mead had an operation on her knee two weeks ago and said she had not given up on playing in next summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

At least 10 Women’s Super League players are out of action with ACL injuries sustained since the summer, including Aston Villa’s Simone Magill and Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Tottenham’s Kyah Simon and Ellie Brazil, and West Ham’s Jessica Ziu.

Mead, 27, said she believed new research was needed and that she and Miedema were keen to be involved: “Unfortunately this has happened to us but hopefully it can kick somebody up the arse to go on and start doing something.”

Mead, who fired England to their history-making Euros win in summer, spoke after winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award at a ceremony at MediaCity in Salford on Wednesday night, where she appeared on crutches and limped heavily when collecting her prize.

Sarina Wiegman, the Lionesses manager who won coach of the year at the BBC awards, said Fifa, Uefa and federations across the world “have to do something” about the ACL issue because the “demands of the game on the top players are getting higher and higher”.

She added: “We also have commercial things so I don’t think it is so easy to change schedules but we have to find a way because now we get too many injuries.

“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.”

The Football Association said its research had concluded that ACL issues accounted for 1.3% of all injuries in the top two tiers of women’s football in the past four seasons – comparable, it said, to the rate in men’s football.

It is understood the FA plans to release the study early in the new year.