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Finnish Female Football Injury Study ‒ epidemiology of injuries and illnesses in Finnish elite female football players

Sports injury prevention is important to create a strong basis for lifelong physical activity and to lower the costs of injuries. The findings of this study will promote planning and implementation of injury prevention both in elite level football as well as in grass roots level.


Football (soccer) is the world’s most popular sport with 270 million players and is also the largest team sport in Finland. Approximately 140 000 adults and 217 adolescents play football as their leisure time activity. Playing football can induce significant health benefits for all ages[5-8]. However, the risk of injuries is high in football, especially in elite level and especially in female players. In female athletes participating in pivoting sports such as football, a high incidence of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries is commonly reported. ACL injury is the most common severe injury in female football players and is a substantial health problem causing high risk of early osteoarthritis, increasing the risk of future knee injuries and is associated with quitting sports. Thus, preventing sports injuries is one of key actions to keep athletes healthy and to support lifelong physical activity among athletic population.

Many high-quality intervention studies have shown that football injuries can be prevented, and several injury prevention programs (such as ‘FIFA 11+’, ‘Knäkontroll’) have been implemented. However, as the injury rates, especially among female players, continue to be high, more research focusing on epidemiology, risk factors and prevention is needed. Epidemiological follow-up studies can help to determine if injury prevention has been implemented successfully and if injury prevention works in real-life settings.


The main aim of this study is to investigate epidemiology of acute and overuse injuries as well as other health problems among elite female football players in Finland during seasons 2020–2030. We will also investigate players performance in sport-specific field tests conducted at the beginning of playing season and their association with the risk of future injuries.

Study Setting

This investigation is a prospective multi season follow-up study in female football players in top leagues in Finland. Data collection will be carried out by questionnaires, a structured injury form, and interviews of players. In addition, from season 2023 forward, players will conduct physical tests at the beginning and end of each season. During the follow-up, individual injury and illness data as well as individual training and playing time is collected every week through a mobile application (AthleteMonitoring, Canada). All questionnaires used in the study are available also in English for foreign players.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Mari Leppänen

Research Group

Mari Leppänen (Tampere Research Center of Sports Medicine / UKK Institute), Tuomas Brinck (University of Helsinki, HUS, Football Association of Finland), Jari Parkkari (University of Jyväskylä), Olli J. Heinonen (University of Turku, Paavo Nurmi Center), Einari Kurittu (Tampere Research Center of Sports Medicine, Tampere University, Football Association of Finland), Iida Mustakoski (Tampere Research Center of Sports Medicine / UKK Institute), Tommi Vasankari (The UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Football Association of Finland)

Project Partners

University of Jyväskylä, Finnish Institute of High Performance Sport KIHU, Paavo Nurmi Center


The project has received a grant from the Football Association of Finland.

Starting Year


Ethical Approval

Ethical approval to conduct this study has been sought from the Ethics Committee of Pirkanmaa Hospital District, Tampere, Finland, 4.2.2020 (ETL-code R19135).

Publications Return to sport after a head injury in elite female football.

Last updated: 16.5.2024

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