High return to competition rate following ACL injury - A 10-year media-based epidemiological injury study in men's professional football

Eur J Sport Sci. 2020 Jun;20(5):682-690. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2019.1648557. Epub 2019 Aug 18.


Ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) typically occur in professional football and epidemiological data about longitudinal injury development is needed. This practice-driven investigation of media-derived ACL data provides information about professional football over 10 years. Injury registration was based on "kicker" sports magazine information that have been recorded over one decade in a standardized manner. Only ACL ruptures in the first German football league were included when they could be verified by a second reliable source. Level of evidence: III. Fifty-seven primary ACL ruptures were verified in the first German football league during the seasons 2007/2008 to 2016/2017. Among them, six re-injuries were found. Mean age at the time of injury was 24.8 years (SD 3.8). 31% (n = 20) of ACL ruptures occurred at the beginning of the season in August or September (p = 0.02). Mean time of RTC after primary ACL ruptures was 226.7 days (SD: 93.5) and 245.6 days (SD: 45.4) after re-injury. Although 62 (98%) players returned to football after injury and only one player immediately finished his career, 54.9% of the affected individuals played 3 years after the ACL rupture in the same league. ACL ruptures lead to longer absence than 7 months from football but does not give reason for immediate career-ending. The decrease in playing level after 3 years illustrate the serious consequences of ACL ruptures in football. Media-based injury reports may provide interesting information.

Keywords: ACL rupture; consequences; media-based; prevention; professional; return-to-competition.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Return to Sport*
  • Risk Factors
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Young Adult