Objective: To study the incidence and nature of injuries at European Championships, to compare training and match injury characteristics, and to study differences in injury incidence between tournaments.
Design: Team physicians prospectively recorded individual player exposure and time loss injuries during twelve European Championships (men’s EURO n=1, men’s Under-21 n=2, men’s Under-19 n=3, men’s Under-17 n=3, women’s Under-19 n=3) from 2006 to 2008.
Setting: International football tournaments.
Participants: 1594 men and 433 women.
Main outcome measurement: Injury incidence.
Results: 224 injuries (45 training, 179 match play) were registered among 208 (10%) players. No differences in training injury incidence were seen between tournaments (range 1.3 – 3.9 injuries/1000 hours). The men’s EURO had the highest match injury incidence (41.6 injuries/1000 hours) followed by the men’s Under-21 tournaments (33.9). The lowest match injury incidence was seen in the women’s Under-19 tournaments (20.5). Training injuries constituted 20% of all injuries and caused 26% of all match unavailability. A greater proportion of match injuries were due to trauma (83 vs. 47%, p<0.001) and occurred from player contact (75 vs. 48%, p=0.018) compared to training injuries. A higher frequency of re-injury was found among training injuries than match injuries (20 vs. 6%, p=0.009).
Conclusions: Match injury incidence increased with age, indicating greater risk with higher intensity of play. Training injury incidence was relatively low, but training injuries were responsible for a quarter of all match unavailability and may thus have a profound impact on team performance and should be the object of preventive measures.