Fan safety first: How common are spectator injuries at football matches?

Football is undoubtedly one of the most beloved sports in the UK. It draws in millions of passionate fans in front of their telly. It draws them into their favourite pub – and into our stadiums every year.

The thrill of witnessing live matches, cheering for your favourite team, and experiencing the electric atmosphere is unmatched – pun possibly intended. However, amidst the excitement lies a risk many of us might not even think about: Getting injured as a spectator. Understanding the prevalence of these incidents, however, is crucial in ensuring fan safety remains a top priority for football clubs and their governing bodies. And, what to do if you get injured at a football match.

What do the numbers say?

According to the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA), an organisation tasked with overseeing spectator safety at sports grounds here in the UK, the frequency of spectator injuries at football matches is, luckily, relatively low compared to the vast number of attendees. In their latest report covering the season 2022/23, findings showed a small number of 2,289 spectators being treated for eligible injuries – out of 34,317,374 Premiere League, EFL Championship, and Leagues One and Two visitors. A minor increase from the previous season to still only a total of 6.7 injuries per 100,000 spectators.

By far the most common injuries are slips, trips, or falls with just shy of a third of all causes. Followed by things such as celebration, assault or accidental hits, hot drink or food spillage… And getting hit with the actual football. Most of the injuries stay minor – with only around 0.5 hospitalisations in 100,000 people.

What to do if you get injured

What to do if you get injured at a football match? In the unfortunate event of sustaining an injury, it’s essential to know the avenues available for seeking assistance and potential recourse. Football stadiums and clubs have a duty of care towards their spectators. Meaning that they are responsible for providing prompt medical attention and support in the event of an accident.

Additionally, clubs may have established procedures for reporting injuries and seeking compensation. Particularly in cases where negligence or unsafe conditions contributed to the incident. But seeking legal advice from a solicitor specialising in personal injury claims in public spaces may also be warranted. It’s crucial to act swiftly in such cases. Though it can usually be brought forward up to three years after the accident happened.

Looking out for each other

While the vast majority of football spectators will enjoy their matches without any incidents, it’s still essential to acknowledge the potential risks associated with large crowds and intense emotions. As it’s a place where alcohol is cheerfully consumed, too, be aware that it sometimes can lead to disruptive behaviour or alter one’s perception of risk – increasing the likelihood of accidents.

That being said, spectator safety isn’t solely the responsibility of football clubs and authorities. Fans themselves, of course, play a pivotal role in ensuring their safety and that of others around them. Being mindful of stadium rules and regulations, following instructions from stewards and security personnel. Refraining from engaging in reckless behaviour are effective ways for fans to contribute to a safer matchday experience for everyone.