Leading sportswear manufacturers including Adidas, Nike, and Puma have come under scrutiny concerning the lack of football boots specifically designed for women and girls. The central issue arises from concerns over increased knee injuries in female footballers, possibly linked to using boots tailored for male players.

Concerns over Injuries and Boot Design

Research highlights that anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, which impacted five of the top 20 female footballers globally in 2022, could be attributed to these boot designs. Notably, several key players for the Lionesses will be absent from the 2023 Women’s World Cup due to such injuries.

A study published the previous year further accentuated the differences in the anatomical structures of male and female feet, with particular focus on the heels and arches. The use of male-designed boots by female players has been associated with issues like blisters and stress fractures.

Responses from Sportswear Giants

Upon inquiry, manufacturers relayed their investments into women-specific and gender-neutral football boots. They noted that the reluctance of retailers to stock these products and a low consumer demand and awareness impedes their prevalence in the market.

Conservative MP Caroline Nokes, chair of British Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, expressed her disappointment with the non-responsiveness of retailers to the committee’s inquiries. She further urged sportswear brands to influence retailer behavior for better recognition of women’s football boots.

Sportswear Manufacturers and Retailers: A Complex Dynamic

In the midst of this issue, the committee pointed out Sports Direct’s online and in-store product descriptions, which often lack clarity on whether the football boots are designed specifically for women. Many products are simply labeled “men’s” or “boys”.

Puma’s response to the queries suggested that societal factors could be influencing women’s choices in football boots. They highlighted that many women may prefer to challenge male dominance by choosing to wear the same footwear as male players.

Furthermore, the committee noted that several football boots designed specifically for women bear a higher price tag, with some costing over £200 more. Nike defended their pricing by offering choices in the Phantom Luna boot range.

Emerging Players in Women’s Football Boots

IDA Sports, a smaller sportswear company, has introduced a range of boots specifically designed for women’s feet. They stress the distinct biomechanical differences between men and women. Despite their dedicated efforts, they have yet to find a footing among major UK retailers.


The debate revolves around the need for inclusivity and recognition in sports equipment, primarily football boots, tailored for female athletes. As manufacturers invest more into female-centric designs, there’s a call for retailers to match the stride, ensuring that these products are accessible and visible in the mainstream market.