The timing of this year’s FIFA World Cup means that it falls right in the middle of the regular season, meaning that there could be more World Cup injuries than we’re used to seeing. Learn more about current injuries, common injuries, and how they can impact betting odds.
As the most prestigious sporting event in history approaches, it’s imperative to understand the importance surrounding football injuries and the heightened risk of injuries in soccer players during a competition that provides such a sought-after trophy. With players expected to push their bodies to the limit, the risk of injury can be dramatically increased and a fit squad is critical come game time.
While injury concerns are apparent during every Fifa World Cup competition, the unique circumstances of the Qatar 2022 World Cup have forced a greater risk of injury, as highlighted by the international players’ union, FIFPRO.
Most European nations attending the World Cup will see their players compete in domestic action just one week before the tournament, which will undoubtedly put players at a higher risk than usual. Commonly, the World Cup is held during the summer months, and the players called up for the competition have at least an 8-week resting period before World Cup international duties arise. Having more than an entire month off leading up to game time would allow time for any minor injuries of note to clear up.
However, the Qatar 2022 World is adding to a relentless player schedule. Hot conditions and the accumulated workload could affect a player in the later stages of the World Cup and the remainder of their club season. It’s common for players to suffer an injury during training but now, players have a full month of action leading up to the match.
FIFPRO’s general secretary, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, released a statement concerning the issue:
“I think the risk [of injury] is higher as is the risk of fatigue over the next four weeks and that players might not be available when the most prominent matches are played.
I think the probability of that is undoubtedly higher [than other World Cups]. We might still see an incredible World Cup because players are leaving it all out there, and we might see some countries playing miraculous football. Still, the bigger picture increases the probability of injury and increases the likelihood of fatigue-limiting performance. That is what the science says.”
We’ve built a detailed guide below, helping you stay informed and up-to-date on every subject matter surrounding injuries at the World Cup. From practice injuries, a players club career, how a club manager has dealt with players leading up to the tournament, where to find the latest injuries, and everything in between.
Qatar and Ecuador will open the 2022 World Cup on November 20, and the news is heating up as we get closer to game time. It’s easier than ever to keep up with injuries in soccer players.
With the OddsTrader BetStation App, you can stay up to date with the latest injury news for each match. Select a game that you’re interested in and scroll to the right on the green navigation part to access the injury section with the latest updates for both teams.
Another source for more in-depth information regarding each squad is The Athletic, which provides one of the most notable World Cup injury and squad trackers here, with live updates as they happen and previous injuries from the entire season.
There are already a number of players who will be missing the match due to calf injuries, hamstring issues, and other injuries of note. Players like Joao Rojas from Ecuador and Miles Robinson of Atlanta United are both out due to a long-term injury from several months ago. Jakub Moder of Poland in particular has a nagging knee injury that has kept him off the pitch since April.
Other soccer player injuries, like Bouna Sarr of Bayern Munich’s and Reece James’ knee trouble, happened more recently.
Here’s a list of the players we know won’t be participating and why:
Soft tissue and muscle complications are among some of the most common injuries during World Cup competitions, and in the past two weeks leading up to the Qatar 2022 edition, more than 42 injuries have been tracked. Data shows that 88% of the 42 injuries are soft tissue and muscle injuries, but several knee and hamstring injury concerns have also occurred in recent weeks.
From a sample size of just two weeks, this is undoubtedly a concern, and when the competition is underway, what alternative and potential career-threatening injury trouble can we expect?
Whether on the training ground or in the heart of the action, the consistent pressure and use of a player’s knee can result in a severe knee injury. Repeating shifts in weight, bursting sprints, turns and twists can become detrimental and cause a soccer player knee injury.
Players often neglect soccer knee injury treatment, as they’ll regularly ignore the minor pains in fear of missing games – but this often leads to longer-lasting damage and further complications. There are a plethora of reasons behind acute and chronic knee injuries, and we’ve listed some below.
The knee is made up of two cruciate ligaments and two collateral ligaments. Players suffering from a sprained knee can arise from tearing, stretching, or damaging these ligaments. A simple sprain can be treated with rest and/or knee support. The pressure from knee support assists in the reduction of swelling and can speed up recovery. In addition, ice packs can lessen swelling and pain. However, severe tears can require surgery.
Minor sprained knees can heal in weeks, but players could be absent from active competition for 4-6 months or even longer if surgery is required.
Damaged ligaments of the knee are the most common, specifically the Anterior Cruciate Ligament and Medial Collateral Ligament. These injuries occur when the knee is under too much strain or from sudden twisting and turning actions.
Should the ACL rupture, a player has no choice but to undergo surgery. More worryingly, rehabilitation for this injury can take up to a year.
When a player damages the cartilage in their knee, it’s known as a Meniscal Tear, and this usually occurs when a knee is twisted while in a bending motion. Minor tears can be resolved with acupuncture and general physiotherapy treatments. But similar to the ACL, surgery may be required if the cartilage is completely torn.
The foot and ankle are put under great demand in general everyday activities; however, competing in World Cup soccer games increases the force placed upon them.
Ankle sprains are among the most shared World Cup ankle and foot injuries. They occur the ligaments connected to the foot bone are torn. In most cases, an ankle issue arises from a direct tackle, but it can also happen from running, jumping, or falling.
The excellent news, sprained ankles can heal rapidly. However, players need to seek rehabilitation to avoid repeated ankle sprains and long-term pain.
Turf Toe is a sprain of the big toe joint. The name turf toe evolved from the significance of this injury occurring while playing football on artificial grass (turf). This injury stems from the hyper-extension of a player’s big toe. Most cases of Turf Toe can be solved with rest, ice packs, compression, and elevation; however, severe cases may require surgery.
Fractures are some of the most common injuries in the World Cup and soccer in general. A fracture is a complete break or thin crack in the bone. When a fracture reoccurs, this is known as a Jones fracture. This fracture often occurs from stress on the bone from repeating motions or overuse but can also arise from rolling the ankle. The healing process usually requires a player to use foot support for 8 weeks. However, some fractures do require surgery.
Shin injuries are commonplace in soccer because of the overwhelming stress on the lower legs. Shin guards are worn by players for a very good reason. There’s a long list of shin/leg injuries like:
Shin splints result from inflammation in the muscles around the shit and are usually caused by running on hard surfaces. It isn’t a devastating injury, but the typical recovery period is around 3-6 weeks.
The most frequent stress fracture in World Cup soccer is the microfracture in the tibia. The symptoms are similar to shin splints and can sometimes be challenging to determine, thus requiring a bone scan. It’s a naturally healing injury, most players do not require surgery on fractures, but natural healing can take between 6 to 12 weeks of rest.
Hamstrings are the muscles located at the back of your thigh. These muscles are put under duress when players spring and make sudden movements. Symptoms of hamstring injuries will vary from tears and ruptures. Depending on the severity, hamstring issues can heal in weeks, but the more severe cases can sideline a player for months.
While soccer is a sport that mainly focuses on the use of a person’s legs and lower body, it’s a full-contact sport that delivers injuries anywhere on the body.
Concussions, while rare, are still a possibility on the soccer pitch. Head injuries usually occur when two players collide while attempting to header the ball. Head injuries aren’t restricted to concussions, as cheekbone fractures are another common injury to the head.
Other common World Cup player injuries include:
Goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and strikers are the four positions that make up a soccer team. While they’re all prone to injury, certain positions suffer from injury significantly more than others.
Studies have shown that forward positions occur more injuries per player by 14%, with goalkeepers coming in second at 10%. There isn’t a massive difference in the rate of injury between soccer positions; however, we have to consider the number of encounters a goalkeeper has with outfield players compared to the number of encounters other positions have.
The overall number of injuries between forward players (strikers, attacking midfielders) is higher than goalkeepers, but forwards naturally make contact with other players much more than goalkeepers. In layman’s terms, a goalkeeper is at a higher risk of injury when they come in contact with other players, making their position the most dangerous.
Encounters between goalkeepers and the opposing team’s players are rarer than outfield players, but they often present a higher risk than most contact forms elsewhere on the field. One of the most common forms of contact that goalkeepers must make is when a forward is sprinting at full face toward the keeper’s goal. These scenarios require a high level of force from a talented goalkeeper, thus creating an increased injury risk.
Oddsmakers will adjust betting lines during the World Cup accordingly. Argentina has received praise in the World Cup betting odds in recent weeks due to their current record and the positive club career of Lionel Messi. However, should Messi or any other superstar player suffer injury trouble during the Qatar 2022 tournament, we can expect sportsbooks to lower the probability and available prices moving forward.
Brazil is the World Cup betting favorite because they boast an elite squad, but a clean bill of health for their 26-man roster also factors into the oddsmaker’s decision-making. Multiple injuries before or during the competition would see their price change according to the severity of the injury and how important the player/players are to the team’s overall success.
Sports bettors must keep track of injuries. For example, suppose you’re placing a bet on England to win the World Cup at a price you believe holds excellent value. In that case, this betting value could only be available due to a recent injury of a crucial team player such as Harry Kane.
World Cup betting odds can be altered based on practice injuries, the club career of a player that’s witnessed reoccurring injuries, and recent club matches that have produced a questionable fitness level of certain players.
While injuries during the World Cup are important, injuries leading up to the World Cup also play a crucial role in your betting decisions, as they can influence a team’s overall performance on the pitch.
When you’re attempting to build your World Cup bankroll, you want to ensure you’re placing bets on the best team, and part of the process is to confirm which players are injured or have a questionable recent injury record.
Having a full squad list helps keep a team strong. Consider Mike Maignan, this talented goalkeeper for AC Milan was confirmed to be out in October; France was already hurting with other players out like Boubacar Kamara, and N’Golo Kante.
Severe injuries or long-term injury that can exceed an entire month is the worst fear for managers and teams entering the World Cup. Injury trouble can not only crush a player’s dream and be damaging to team success, but as the competition is only held every four years, it can be the first and final chance that a player or head coach can have at being involved in the tournament.
However, injuries are a given, and FIFA has rules in place.
Teams can substitute players unable to compete due to injury or serious illness up to 24 hours before their opening World Cup game. But once the tournament has begun, injured players during the World Cup cannot be replaced, and coaches must utilize their 26-man squad.
Has anyone ever faked an injury during the World Cup?
Dramatic dives clutched faces, and intentional falls are commonplace in soccer, which is no different at the World Cup.
When we think of World Cup fake injuries, Brazil’s 2002 winning efforts in Asia delivered a memorable moment for dramatized injuries. After securing a late lead at the penalty spot, Rivaldo was struck on the leg by a ball kicked by Turkey’s Hakan Unsal. Rivaldo collapsed to the floor, grabbing his face.
His acting skills didn’t go unnoticed after the game, but Turkey was outraged as FIFA fined him $1,500 and didn’t take the matter further.
Why do soccer players fake injuries?
Soccer players fake injuries with the intention of manipulating a referee’s decision-making. If a phony soccer injury is convincing enough and the referee doesn’t have a clear view, the decision can often lead to a free-kick, yellow or red card given to the opposite team. In addition, players can exaggerate a tackle to add a handful of minutes to the end of a game. When the clock is paused due to an injury, those lost minutes are added to stoppage time.
Why do soccer players in the World Cup dramatize injuries so much?
Known in the soccer world as foul simulation. Poor form or a race against time in a crucial game can lead to players using this strategy to manipulate the referee’s decision-making. If a player’s simulation of a foul is believable, it can lead to a free kick, penalty kick, or if some cases, a yellow or red card for the opposing team.
However, if a player is caught faking an injury, a yellow or red card can go the other way. And since the introduction of VAR (video assistant referee), it’s becoming more difficult for players to dramatize fouls.
What is the spray they use to treat World Cup injuries?
Referred to as “magic spray, ” a soccer team’s medical assistants apply the cold spray to a player when injured on the pitch. While these sprays may contain numbing agents or properties that can assist a minor muscle injury, they’re also in fashion to help phantom injuries and assist with dramatized fake injuries.
As the term “magic spray” suggests in a satirical fashion, players suffering from fake injury syndrome will jump back to their feet and resume action after receiving this spray treatment.
Something like a sprained ankle or even more severe injuries obviously call for more than a sports med may have in their bag but, in some cases, this spray can get a power striker back on the pitch in no time.
What are the worst World Cup injuries to have happened?
Devastating injuries are almost guaranteed during the World Cup’s intense schedule, and these long-term injuries have plagued past competitions. One of the most memorable injuries of note was at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as the host nation relied heavily on Neymar to bring the trophy home for the first time since 2002.
In the quarter-finals, Brazil faced Colombia. The game involved fifty-four fouls – the most in the tournament – and when Neymar was kneed in the back, he suffered a fractured vertebra. He missed the rest of the tournament, and Brazil lost to the eventual winners Germany 7-1; their worst defeat in World Cup history.
Neymar has had a few severe injuries over the years, including an ankle injury that led to him missing nine games in the 2021-22 season.