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22nd Apr 2022

Women’s footballers should be banned from heading, studies claim

Callum Boyle

Women's footballers heading

New Zealand researchers claim women’s footballers should be banned from heading the ball

A study in New Zealand has suggested that women’s footballers should be banned from heading because they have weaker neck muscles than men.

In recent years there have been calls to introduce restrictions on heading in the men’s game as well as a result of studies showing the increasing rate of danger of concussion on the brain.

However at the University of Otago in New Zealand, researchers claim that lower neck strength, hormone differences and poorer visual awareness could make women’s footballer more prone to concussions when heading footballs.

The studies performed examined existing research into sports-related concussion suffered by adult and child women players, from amateur all the way up to professional level.

Academics working on the programme suggested that women should have specific rules which limit the number of times they can head the ball during games.

women's footballers heading

Concussions are the most common form of brain injury

Concussions are the most common type of brain injury to occur after receiving a knock to the head. While most people are able to recover, some can suffer from long-term injuries.

Studies in recent years have also shown that heading a football can cause mini-concussions which can later build up to increasing the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia later on in life.

Five of the 1966 England World Cup-winning squad have gone on to develop the condition, leading to four deaths.

In 2021, the English Football Association brought in new guidelines limiting the number of headers in training to a maximum of 10 per week. The rules were set in place and apply to both the men’s and women’s teams across all leagues.

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