The incidence and severity of football-related injuries has been found to differ strongly between professional leagues from different countries. The aims of this study were to record the incidence, type and severity of injuries in Kosovarian football players and investigate the relationship between injury incidence rates (IRs), players’ age and playing positions.
Players’ age, anthropometric characteristics and playing positions, training and match exposure as well as injury occurrences were monitored in 11 teams (143 players) of Kosovo’s top division during the 2013/14 season. The exact type, severity and duration of football-related injuries were documented following International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) recommendations.
A total of 272 injuries were observed, with traumatic injuries accounting for 71 %. The overall injury IR was 7.38 (CI: 7.14, 7.63) injuries per 1,000 exposure hours and ~11x lower during training as opposed to matches. Strains and ruptures of thigh muscles, ligamentous injuries of the knee as well as meniscus or other cartilage tears represented the most frequent differential diagnoses. While no statistical differences were found between players engaged in different playing positions, injury IR was found to be higher by 10–13 % in younger (IR = 7.63; CI: 7.39, 7.87) as compared to middle-aged (IR = 6.95; CI: 6.41, 7.54) and older players (IR = 6.76; CI: 5.71, 8.00).
The total injury IR in elite football in Kosovo is slightly lower than the international average, which may be related to lesser match exposure. Typical injury patterns agree well with previously reported data. Our finding that injury IR was greater in younger players is related to a higher rate of traumatic injuries and may indicate a more aggressive and risky style of play in this age group.