According to the 1994 National Soccer Participation Survey (Soccer Industry Council of America), over 16 million persons in the United States play soccer at least once a year. Seventy-four percent (over 12 million) of these persons are under the age of 18. Soccer ranks fourth in participation for those under 18, following basketball, volleyball, and softball and well ahead of baseball, which has an annual participation of 9.7 million.
There are approximately 225,000 to 500,000 soccer goals in the United States. Many of these soccer goals are unsafe because they are unstable and are either unanchored or not properly anchored or counter-balanced. These movable soccer goals pose an unnecessary risk of tip over to children who climb on goals (or nets) or hang from the crossbar.
The CPSC knows of four deaths in 1990 alone and at least 21 deaths during the past 16 years (1979-1994) associated with movable soccer goals. In addition, an estimated 120 injuries involving falling goals were treated each year in U.S. hospital emergency rooms during the period 1989 through 1993. Many of the serious incidents occurred when the soccer goals tipped over onto the victim. Almost all of the goals involved in these tip over appeared to be home-made by high school shop classes, custodial members, or local welders, not professionally manufactured. These home-made goals are often very heavy and unstable.
The majority of movable soccer goals are constructed of metal, typically weighing 150-500 pounds. The serious injuries and deaths are a result of blunt force trauma to the head, neck, chest, and limbs of the victims. In most cases this occurred when the goal tipped or was accidentally tipped onto the victim. In one case an 8-year-old child was fatally injured when the movable soccer goal he was climbing tipped over and struck him on the head. In another case, a 20-year-old male died from a massive head trauma when he pulled a goal down on himself while attempting to do chin-ups. In a third case, while attempting to tighten a net to its goal post, the victim’s father lifted the back base of the goal causing it to tip over striking his 3-year-old child on the head, causing a fatal injury.
High winds can also cause movable soccer goals to fall over. For example, a 9-year-old was fatally injured when a goal was tipped over by a gust of wind. In another incident, a 19-year-old goalie suffered stress fractures to both legs when the soccer goal was blown on top of her.