Injuries affect team performance negatively in professional football: an 11-year follow-up of the UEFA Champions League injury study

Br J Sports Med. 2013 Aug;47(12):738-42. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092215. Epub 2013 May 3.


Background: The influence of injuries on team performance in football has only been scarcely investigated.

Aim: To study the association between injury rates and team performance in the domestic league play, and in European cups, in male professional football.

Methods: 24 football teams from nine European countries were followed prospectively for 11 seasons (2001-2012), including 155 team-seasons. Individual training and match exposure and time-loss injuries were registered. To analyse the effect of injury rates on performance, a Generalised Estimating Equation was used to fit a linear regression on team-level data. Each team's season injury rate and performance were evaluated using its own preceding season data for comparison in the analyses.

Results: 7792 injuries were reported during 1 026 104 exposure hours. The total injury incidence was 7.7 injuries/1000 h, injury burden 130 injury days lost/1000 h and player match availability 86%. Lower injury burden (p=0.011) and higher match availability (p=0.031) were associated with higher final league ranking. Similarly, lower injury incidence (p=0.035), lower injury burden (p<0.001) and higher match availability (p<0.001) were associated with increased points per league match. Finally, lower injury burden (p=0.043) and higher match availability (p=0.048) were associated with an increase in the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Season Club Coefficient, reflecting success in the UEFA Champions League or Europa League.

Conclusions: Injuries had a significant influence on performance in the league play and in European cups in male professional football. The findings stress the importance of injury prevention to increase a team's chances of success.

Keywords: Elite performance; Epidemiology; Injury Prevention; Soccer; Sporting injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Soccer / physiology
  • Soccer / statistics & numerical data