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Epidemiology of injuries in professional football: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Alejandro López-Valenciano1,2,
  2. Iñaki Ruiz-Pérez1,
  3. Alberto Garcia-Gómez3,
  4. Francisco J Vera-Garcia4,
  5. Mark De Ste Croix5,
  6. Gregory D Myer6,7,
  7. Francisco Ayala1
  1. 1 Sports Research Centre, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, Elche, Spain
  2. 2 Universidad Internacional Isabel I de Castilla, Burgos, Spain
  3. 3 Operative Research Centre, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, Elche, Spain
  4. 4 Department of Health Psychology, Miguel Hernandez University of Elche, Elche, Spain
  5. 5 Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, UK
  6. 6 Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  7. 7 Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Francisco Ayala, Sports Research Centre, Miguel Hernández University of Elche, Elche 03202, Spain; fayala{at}


Objective We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological data of injuries in professional male football.

Method Forty-four studies have reported the incidence of injuries in football. Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed trial quality using the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology statement and Newcastle Ottawa Scale. Studies were combined in a pooled analysis using a Poisson random effects regression model.

Results The overall incidence of injuries in professional male football players was 8.1 injuries/1000 hours of exposure. Match injury incidence (36 injuries/1000 hours of exposure) was almost 10 times higher than training injury incidence rate (3.7 injuries/1000 hours of exposure). Lower extremity injuries had the highest incidence rates (6.8 injuries/1000 hours of exposure). The most common types of injuries were muscle/tendon (4.6 injuries/1000 hours of exposure), which were frequently associated with traumatic incidents. Minor injuries (1–3 days of time loss) were the most common. The incidence rate of injuries in the top 5 European professional leagues was not different to that of the professional leagues in other countries (6.8 vs 7.6 injuries/1000 hours of exposure, respectively).

Conclusions Professional male football players have a substantial risk of sustaining injuries, especially during matches.

  • injury
  • football
  • prevention

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  • Contributors Conceptualization: AL-V, FJV-G, MDSC, GDM, FAR. Methodology: AL-V, IRP, AG-G, FAR. Statistical analysis: AL-V, IRP, AG-G, FAR. Writing and original draft: AL-V, IRP, FJV-G, MDSC, GDM, FAR. Writing, review and editing: AL-V, IRP, AG-G, FJV-G, MDSC, GDM, FAR.

  • Funding AL-V was supported by a predoctoral grant given by Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (FPU) from Spain. FAR was supported by a postdoctoral grant given by Seneca Foundation (postdoctoral fellowships funded by the regional sub program focuses on the postdoctoral development, 20366/PD/17) from Spain.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.