WASHINGTON – A soccer goal fell on top of a 7-year-old Frederick girl in 1994 after a smaller child tried to hang from the goal’s iron crossbar. The crossbar hit the girl in the face, causing bruising and swelling and breaking a vessel in her eye.
Soccer goal tipovers send more than 90 people to the hospital each year and have caused at least 22 deaths since 1979, the government reported.
Industry leaders and federal safety regulators are weighing a uniform national standard for securing portable goals in a sport played by 12 million U.S. children, including 50,000 playing in Maryland recreational leagues.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says nearly all of the accidents – including the one in Frederick – involved homemade goals, which are normally made in high school shop classes, by custodial staff or local welders.
The voluntary guidelines would be aimed at parks and recreation personnel, school officials, sports equipment purchasers, parents and coaches.
There are no uniform national standards for the use of the portable soccer goals, which are made for easy moving and storage. Guidelines that do exist vary by level of play and by soccer association.
The National Federation of High Schools requires all portable goals to be anchored by either stakes or sandbags.The National Collegiate Athletic Association requires goals to be anchored in the rear, at the center of the goal line.
The U.S. Soccer Federation, which sponsors recreational soccer games, requires portable goals to be weighted down or anchored by stakes driven into the ground, said Jim Froslid, a federation spokesman.
Froslid said referees are required to inspect goals before each game to ensure they are anchored.
The American Society for Testing and Materials, a not-for- profit voluntary standards organization, is expected to vote within a month on soccer goal standards, said Dan Shaw, chairman of the ASTM subcommittee charged with the matter and a vice president at Jayfro Sports Co.
He said the new standards deal with the construction of goals and the use of anchoring and counterweights such as stakes, augers, sandbags and net pegs.
Blunt force trauma to the head, neck, chest and limbs of victims are the most common injuries from accidental tipovers, according to the CPSC.
In most cases, the goals tipped when the victim or someone else climbed the goal or tried to hang from the crossbar.
In one instance, a soccer goal tipped over and killed a 20- year-old man while he was trying to do chin-ups on the crossbar.
Another death resulted from a goal blown onto a 9-year-old victim by heavy winds.
A 3-year-old boy was killed in 1989 when his father tried to secure the net to its base and accidentally tipped the goal, striking the boy in the head.
The CPSC and goal manufacturers published “Guidelines for Soccer Goal Safety” in 1995 for the installation, use, storage and anchoring of movable soccer goals.
The guidelines specify what materials and dimensions are suitable for soccer goal construction and how the goals should be counterbalanced and anchored to the ground to prevent tipping.
Don Wetmore, vice president of sales at Kwik Goal Ltd., urged those who purchase movable soccer goals to make sure they come with anchors. He said goals with anchors existed before the CPSC began looking into the problem, but “the coaches and clubs had to want them.”