The risk of injury in football is high, but few studies have compared men's and women's football injuries. The purpose of this prospective study was to analyse the exposure and injury characteristics of European Championships in football and to compare data for men, women and male youth players. The national teams of all 32 countries (672 players) that qualified to the men's European Championship 2004, the women's European Championship 2005 and the men's Under-19 European Championship 2005 were studied. Individual training and match exposure was documented during the tournaments as well as time loss injuries. The overall injury incidence was 14 times higher during match play than during training (34.6 vs. 2.4 injuries per 1000 h, P < 0.0001). There were no differences in match and training injury incidences between the championships. Teams eliminated in the women's championship had a significantly higher match injury incidence compared to teams going to the semi-finals (65.4 vs. 5.0 injuries per 1000 h, P = 0.02). Non-contact mechanisms were ascribed for 41% of the match injuries. One-fifth of all injuries were severe with absence from play longer than 4 weeks. In conclusion, injury incidences during the European Championships studied were very similar and it seems thus that the risk of injury in international football is at least not higher in women than in men. The teams eliminated in the women's championship had a significantly higher match injury incidence than the teams going to the final stage. Finally, the high frequency of non-contact injury is worrying from a prevention perspective and should be addressed in future studies.