Howden’s 2022/23 Men’s European Football Injury Index
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 resulted in an increase in injury severity for players across Europe’s top five men’s leagues, reveals Howden’s 2022/23 Men’s European Football Injury Index
- International players who took part in the World Cup spent an average of eight days longer on the sidelines due to injury in the months following the tournament.
- Recorded injuries in October 2022 led to players being sidelined for 11.35 days on average pre-tournament, compared to 19.41 days in January 2023.
- Injury cost rose by almost 30% (€553.62m to €704.89m) across the top five men's European leagues.
20 November 2023, London – A year on from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Howden, the global insurance group, has today published its Men’s European Football Injury Index for the 2022/23 season.
The report reveals that the men’s World Cup in Qatar resulted in an overall increase in injury severity for players in Europe’s top five men’s leagues, who spent an average of eight days longer on the sidelines due to injury in the months following the tournament.
The latest report, the third of its kind to be published by Howden, comes exactly a year after the first men’s winter World Cup tournament and after a season of increased scrutiny around fixture congestion at both international and domestic level, as well as increasing concerns for player welfare.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
With the inclusion of the inaugural winter FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar, men’s European clubs were tasked with managing both player absence and the increase in player workload in order to successfully navigate their domestic campaigns.
In October 2022, 88 recorded injuries led to players being sidelined for 11.35 days on average pre-tournament, compared to 19.41 days in January 2023 post-tournament. The report reveals that during this time frame, ankle (170%), calf/shin (200%) and hamstring injuries (130%) saw the greatest increase in severity.
Despite adopting differing approaches to post-World Cup winter breaks, the English Premier League and Bundesliga, who had 23.6% and 14.8% of players competing in the tournament respectively, saw the biggest impact on rates of injury. In the two months after the tournament, Bundesliga players who took part suffered 46 injuries, compared to 49 in the English Premier League suggesting that the extended winter break in Germany following the men's World Cup proved to have minimal effect.
In a review of the other leagues over the same period – La Liga (18), Ligue 1 (11), Serie A (12) – we see far fewer injury instances.
2022/23 season across Europe
The total number of injuries sustained across all of Europe’s top five men’s leagues was 3,985 over the course of the 2022/23 season.
Despite this being a decrease in overall injury numbers (excluding Covid-19) compared to the previous season 2021/22 (4006), injury costs rose by almost 30% (€553.62m to €704.89m).
In Spain, Real Madrid accrued the highest injury count (72), double that of rivals Barcelona (36). Los Blancos accounted for 21.49% of injury cost across the whole of La Liga.
In Serie A, the newly promoted Lecce survived on a significantly constrained budget against the odds and managed to keep injury levels low throughout the campaign – 19 injuries overall at an average cost of just €60,000 per injury incurred.
English Premier League 2022/23 season
The English Premier League recorded the second highest number of injuries across Europe, after the Bundesliga, with 946 injuries at an average of 47 per side. Despite this being a near 25% decrease in overall injury instances, the total recorded injury cost was £255.41m (€288.61m), a £70.84m (€68.97m) increase on the 2021/22 season.
League winners Manchester City recorded fewer injuries compared to the 2021/22 season (40 vs 67). This lower injury rate also helps explain their proportionately low injury cost (€13.46m / £11.91m) and illustrates the powerful impact of having a deep squad, with international players in every position.
Manchester United and Nottingham Forest suffered from the joint-highest number of injuries across the season (69). Chelsea registered the highest total injury cost, with 68 injury instances costing £40.07m. Fulham (27) and Brentford (28) saw the fewest instances of injury.
Injuries incurred during the 2022/23 season sidelined players for an additional week on average (23.62 days) compared to the 2021/22 season (16.02 days). Knee injuries proved most costly with £480,000 (€540,000) per occurrence.
James Burrows, Head of Sport, Howden said: “In the third report of its kind, the Howden Men’s European Football Injury Index has taken a unique look at the impact of changes made to the international calendar on player availability for domestic football. We've seen clearly that the staging of a men's World Cup in a European winter led to players facing an extra eight days on the sidelines in the second half of the season, compared to the first.
"The impact was consistent across domestic leagues such as the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga, with the increased injury severity contributing to the financial impact rising by almost 30% from €553.62m to €704.89m across the top five men's European leagues.
“The data is clear in demonstrating a trend, and we hope our research and analysis will provide Europe’s top clubs with additional insight as they continue to talk to the game’s governing bodies about an improved alignment of the domestic and international calendars and the broad issue of fixture congestion. Howden’s Sport and Entertainment team is focused on leveraging the power of insurance to help clubs and their players mitigate the increasing frequency and cost of injuries, using data and analytics to provide risk management advice and innovative solutions.”
In addition to the impact of the World Cup in Qatar, the full report considers the evolution of injuries to the under 21 age group and cost of rising wages across the top men’s European Leagues.