Faking injuries is a time-honored — albeit widely frowned-upon — way to slow down an athletic event, catch a breather or disrupt an opponent's rhythm. A new study issued Thursday hints that the practice may be somewhat testosterone-driven. Women soccer players, the study finds, are significantly less likely than men to fake an injury on the field, researchers from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., reported.
"Injuries are common in women's soccer and seem to be on the rise at the international level," said Dr. Daryl A. Rosenbaum, an assistant professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest. Faked injuries also seem to be on the rise, to the point that the International Federation of Assn. Football (FIFA), soccer's governing body, issued a directive calling for "the football family to unite in denouncing injury simulation and working to eradicate this scourge from the game." FIFA's concern may be justified, he said.
In 2010, Rosenbaum and his colleagues studied videotapes of international men's soccer matches and concluded that there were an average of 11.26 apparent injuries per match, in which players were writhing or rolling on the ground, grabbing a body part, yelling, having an anguished facial expression or hiding their face. They concluded that only 7.2% of the apparent injuries were "definite" injuries — that is, the player withdrew from the contest within five minutes or blood was apparent.