Playing sport bears an inherent risk of injury. Structured prevention programs such as the Football Australia FUNdamentals+ and Football Australia Perform+ are a great way of minimising this risk [1], but can’t protect against all types of injuries, especially those caused by foul play.

Men’s World Cup data shows that foul play is involved in 14 to 37% of all injuries suffered in matches and consequently matches with more fouls lead to more injuries [2]. Football Australia’s XI Standards of Respect make it clear that the safety and welfare of all players is a key priority and that all participants are expected to play by the rules and the expected standards of fair play.

Future Matildas preparing to play
Future Matildas preparing to play

Decreasing injury rates should be in every participant’s best interest. Playing within the spirit of the game, being mindful of environmental factors and wearing the correct protective gear are all effective strategies in achieving this [3].

To help minimise the risk of injury, do...

  • Consider the safety and welfare of all participants a priority.
  • Play by the rules and the expected standards of fair play.
  • Have a philosophy and consistent approach towards injury prevention, including following a structured injury prevention program such as the Football Australia Perform+.
  • Wear protective equipment like shinpads and correct footwear.
  • Check the pitch and equipment for any potentially harmful objects before training sessions and matches.
  • Be aware of environmental conditions such as extreme heat & humidity, high pollen counts or low air quality.
  • Consult a medical professional for acute or chronic injury concerns.


  • Play when feeling unwell.
  • Play or train in heat or humidity without necessary safety precautions.
  • Ignore head knocks or take them lightly.

Suggested Reading

References: Essentials

[1]  D. Sadigursky, J. A. Braid, D. N. L. De Lira, B. A. B. Machado, R. J. F. Carneiro and P. O. Colavolpe, “The FIFA 11+ injury prevention program for soccer players: a systematic review,” BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, vol. 9, no. 18, 2017.

[2]  J. Ryynänen, A. Junge, J. Dvorak, L. Peterson, H. Kautiainen, J. Karlsson and M. Börjesson, “Foul play is associated with injury incidence: an epidemiological study of three FIFA World Cups (2002-2010),” Br J Sports Med, vol. 47, pp. 986-991, 2013.

[3]  S. Chaterjee, N. Banerjee, S. Bhattacharjee, T. Santra, A. Chatterjee, S. Chatterjee, B. Saha, S. Mukherjee and I. Manna, “Sports Injuries with Special Reference to Soccer: Causes, Consequences and Prevention Strategies,” American Journal of Sports Science, vol. 2, no. 6-1, pp. 24-30, 2014.