New research conducted by the European Clubs Association has revealed that over 80% of female footballers from top European clubs have experienced regular discomfort due to their football boots.
The survey involved 350 footballers from 16 elite teams, shedding light on the challenges faced by female players in relation to their footwear.
The study disclosed that a significant 82% of the players felt discomfort that could potentially impact their performance on the pitch. In an attempt to enhance comfort, one-fifth of the participants admitted to customizing their boots.
The current football boot market predominantly caters to white male players, which may contribute to the discomfort experienced by female players.
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The research specifically highlighted that 34% of the female footballers who participated in the anonymous survey reported discomfort in their heels. Many of them resorted to using specialized insoles provided by podiatrists, while others had to resort to cutting holes in their boots to alleviate persistent rubbing and blisters.
Notably, the study also discovered that black players faced a significantly higher rate of heel discomfort, with 48% reporting such issues compared to 32% of their white counterparts. These findings shed light on the potential racial disparities when it comes to boot discomfort among female footballers.
“The numbers were staggering,” said Claire Bloomfield, the ECA’s head of women’s football.
“We knew we were going to find something but those numbers really did shock us all.
“It highlighted the importance of this work and why it needs to be done now. The end goal is about inspiring industry change. It is highlighting a really key area in neglected research.”
Sports scientists have previously highlighted the lack of football kit designed for women, saying the use of boots and balls created for male players could be putting them at higher risk of injury.
The ECA research suggested issues relating to Achilles tendons and metatarsal stress fractures were linked to incorrect footwear. Two in five players reported to the ECA that they did not feel the current football boot market offers good injury prevention.
Research also explored differences between female and male feet, including width, height of arches, metatarsal length, metatarsal joint angle, and ankle circumference relative to foot length.