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Why are there so few female-specific football boots and does this impact on the prevalence of ACL injuries? Football boot brands respond to MPs

7 August 2023

The Women and Equalities Committee today publishes responses from major football boot brands, including Adidas, Nike and Puma, following concerns raised by Chair Caroline Nokes MP last month about the lack of boots on the market specifically designed for women and girls. 

Brands cite lower consumer demand for and awareness of female-specific boots and sports retailers’ reluctance to invest in different products as some of the historic barriers to a wider range of options for women and girls. The responses reveal a range of approaches to football boot design, including a gender-neutral approach, and increased investment in female-specific innovation.

The Committee’s intervention was prompted by evidence of a higher rate of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) knee injuries among female footballers and concerns that football boots, which until recently have been almost exclusively designed for men, are a potential factor in injury risk for women. ACL injuries impacted five of the world’s top 20 female footballers in 2022, and key players for the Lionesses are missing from the 2023 Women’s World Cup because of the injury. Recent research by the European Clubs Association has found that 80% of female players at top European clubs have suffered regular discomfort because of their football boots.

Chair comment

Committee Chair Caroline Nokes MP said:

“Football brands are making welcome progress on supporting the needs of female football players, but this needs to be better reflected on the high street and online. It remains the case that major retailers give limited recognition to women and girls when it comes to football boots. It is no good investing in research and making boots for female football players if women are unaware of those products or unable to buy them. It is disappointing that we have not had any responses from retailers as part of this inquiry. We call on the brands to do more to influence their behaviour and build on the interest in the Women’s World Cup and increasing popularity of the women’s game.”

The Committee asked major brands about their approach to the design, manufacture and marketing of football boots, whether they are conducting any research into women specific designs, and how this could help prevent avoidable injuries. MPs also wrote to IDA Sports, whose range of boots is designed specifically for women’s feet.

As part of its work on sexism and inequality in sport, the Committee will continue to examine this issue and whether readily available sports equipment adequately protects the health and wellbeing of women and girls.

Further information

Image credit: Pixabay