Injuries to European Footballers Rise to $767 Million During World Cup Year: Howden

November 20, 2023 by

Injuries to European footballers became more severe after the winter World Cup in Qatar last year, contributing to a nearly 30% annual jump in the cost to clubs of seeing their players sit on the sidelines.

The findings come in a report by City of London insurance firm Howden Group Holdings Ltd., which said clubs in Europe’s leading five leagues suffered a €704.9 million ($767 million) hit from injuries last season, up from €553.6 million the previous season. The report calculates the cost of injuries from players’ salaries and the amount of time they are injured.

Teams in England’s Premier League took the biggest hit, accounting for over 40% of the cost across the five leagues. In the two months after the World Cup in Qatar, there were 49 injuries in the Premier League, more than in any other top division. Germany’s Bundesliga was second, with 46 injuries.

“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,” said James Burrows, Howden’s head of sport. Injuries in October caused players to be out for 11.4 days on average, while January’s injuries led to layoffs of 19.4 days. For consistency, this comparison applied only to players named in World Cup squads.

World Cups are normally held during Europe’s summer, when clubs are not playing. Last year, an exception was made after Qatar was controversially chosen as host. The tournament started a year ago on Nov. 20, 2022, and finished on Dec. 18 when Lionel Messi led Argentina to victory in an eventful final against France.

The 417 players involved in the World Cup suffered 225 injuries between November 2022 and February this year, the report said. Prominent footballers and managers have raised concerns about injuries being triggered by fixture congestion. Next season, the Champions League — Europe’s premier competition — is expanding to include more games, after a summer in which countries will compete in Euro 2024.

In the Premier League, Manchester United, Nottingham Forest and Chelsea suffered the most injuries last season. Champions Manchester City had fewer injuries than any other club that finished in the top eight.

Photograph: Soccer player Solly March of Brighton & Hove Albion leaves the field on a stretcher after receiving medical treatment during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion at Etihad Stadium on Oct. 21, 2023 in Manchester, England. Photo credit: Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images