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NWSL stars: Women’s soccer must ‘push the standard’ amid injury crisis

Canada and Thorns forward Janine Beckie missed the 2023 World Cup with an ACL tear. (Erin Chang/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

As the injury crisis in women’s soccer continues, players want to see changes.

On the latest episode of Just Women’s Sports‘ “Snacks” podcast, Canada star Janine Beckie – who missed the 2023 World Cup with an ACL tear – told USWNT players and co-hosts Lynn Williams and Sam Mewis that teams must set a new standard in order to help prevent injuries.

During the latest international break, three players tore their ACLs, including Scotland’s Caroline Weir. Beckie tore her ACL in March while playing in a preseason match for the NWSL’s Portland Thorns.

After her own injury, she called out the packed schedule for women’s players, telling Reuters that as games for women increase, so must the resources.

“You’ve changed the schedule to mimic the men yet you’re not giving the female players the same level of resources,” she said. “Premier League players are playing 40-, 50-plus games a season and are able to maintain fitness levels because they’re treated like gold, which they should be. If you’re going ask an elite athlete to play 50 games a season, you’ve got provide them the top-of-the-line care.”

She expanded upon that thought on “Snacks.”

“My point in saying that was you’re asking these players to play under a really, really heavy load, and then you’re not counterbalancing that with extra recovery sessions, equipment, more medical personnel,” she said. “I think like, at [Manchester] City for the men’s team, they have some stupid ratio of three players to one physio, or something like that. Like, they just have a wild amount of medical staff. … If that’s how they’re operating, that’s how it should be. And you see these Premier League teams that have their big-time players available all the time, so they’re doing the right things off the field.”

Unfortunately, Beckie says, the reality is that men’s soccer players likely don’t have to worry about their facilities as much as women’s soccer players. Additionally, no women’s club is likely to have every resource.

“We have to continue to push that standard in our own environments,” she continued. “Because if we don’t change the resource availability for our players, we’re just going to continue to see these mayhem moments happening more and more frequently.

Williams agreed, noting that there are club teams where people are “wearing three different hats.”

“So then things slip through the cracks. And so if we can change that, start there and just have those resources, I think that’s a good first step,” she said. “It is amazing to see, I think Portland is up there with doing incredible things. You have your whole setup, it seems like you go into training and you have everything right there. We need more teams to continue to push the top so it forces the bottom to come up.”