Soccer Goals: 40 Deaths & 59 Serious Injuries in 38 Years

By Doyice Cotten

8556154575_2dcd4934ed_zA recent article reported on the death of a two-year-old Tennessee girl who was killed when a soccer goal blew over on top of her. Local TV reported that the unanchored goal turned over as a result of a 30 to 40 mph wind. At the time of the report, it was not verified whether the goals at the International Soccer Complex were anchored in any way.

Reading this report brought back memories of an important Ohio case in 1998 (Zivich v. Menor Soccer Club, 1998). The Zivich case was significant because the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that waivers signed by parents, on behalf of minor children, were enforceable in the State of Ohio. I began thinking, surely there have been more cases in the 30 years since Zivich. I googled ‘injuries from falling soccer goal posts’ and the first thing I found was a list of cases compiled by the CPSC (Consumer Products Safety Commission) that was so up-to-date that it included the Tennessee case. It is interesting to look at the dates; the cases date from 1979 through May 1, 2017 – with no trend toward a decrease in the frequency of such accidents.

The list of cases lists 40 deaths and 59 serious injuries since 1979. The list contains the date, age and sex, city/state, setting, and a brief summary of the circumstances. Many organizations have issued safety directives and advisories regarding soccer goals. The following are a few of them (Click on the hyperlink to go the recommendations):


AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization)

The Redwoods Group

The knowledge is available to stop these tragic accidents; all we have to do is to CARE and realize that soccer goals constitute a danger that can be eliminated.

Risk Management Take-Away

It is obvious that professionals in the industry know enough to stop these needless injuries and deaths. What we need now is some APPLICATION of this know-how. Note from the table that these incidents are happening in locations where PROFESSIONALS ARE IN CHARGE. What are they thinking? Look at the list of cities and states in which the incidents have occurred. Why would one think this could not happen in your facility?  The best way to prevent LAWSUITS is to prevent injuries and deaths. The best way to do that is to institute a pro-active risk management program.

Photo Credit: Thanks to Woodleywonderworks on Flickr.