Injuries in association football (soccer) are debilitating for players and can also be detrimental to the success of a team or club. The type or condition of a playing surface has been empirically linked to injuries by players, yet injury research studies do not always support players’ assessments of injury risk. The purpose of this study was to analyse a worldwide cohort of elite football players’ perceptions of injuries due to a playing surface and to explore differences with the injury literature. The results can identify areas where future research should be focused to minimise the differences and ensure playing surfaces do not cause injuries perceived or otherwise. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from 1129 players across the globe to address the aim of this study. Ninety-one percent of players believed the type or condition of a surface could increase the risk of injury. Soreness and pain were terms frequently used by players to describe the types of injuries they experienced and were often in relation to muscles or joints/bones. Abrasive injuries, along with soreness and pain were perceived to be greater on artificial turf. Surface type, surface properties, footwear, player attributes, adaptation and climate/time of the season were all potential risk factors identified by the players and linked to the playing surfaces. The results of this study suggest injury reporting should include measures of soreness or pain experienced by players. Potential risk factors such as switching between surfaces require further experimental studies to support the players’ perceptions from varying surface experiences.