FIFA.com presents a selection of quotes from the media conference at the 2nd FIFA Medical Conference, which was held in Budapest on 23 and 24 May.* *
Dr Michel D’Hooghe: “The main word on the agenda of the FIFA medical conference is always prevention.”
Professor Jiri Dvorak: “We have almost 40,000 children in the Football for Health programme in Mauritius, Namibia, Malawi, Botswana and we are starting soon in Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia. We are using the popularity of football to contribute to improvement of public health. There is scientific evidence that it works.
“Nationwide, the 11+ programme has been introduced in 47 countries around the world. Based on scientific evidence, regular implement of the 11+ warm-up programme reduces regular injuries by 30 per cent and severe injuries by 50 per cent.
“It reduces match injuries by 12 per cent and training injuries by 25 per cent and reduces insurance costs by approximately 15 per cent. In New Zealand, it was found that one dollar invested in 11+ results in a saving of eight dollars on primary medical costs. This is an important motivation to continue implementing the programme.”* *
D’Hooghe: “Physicians at the medical conference felt that the ideal number of matches should not exceed 60 performances a year. Not one doctor present said we should tolerate more than 60 matches a year.
“Playing 60 matches a year has short and long-term effects. In the short term, it causes more and more cartilaginous defects, which is very difficult to treat, and leads to unavailability. In the long term, the player is ready for osteoarthritis. And players have to live longer than their playing career. They will not have a healthy body if they are overcharging themselves.
“Of course, there are commercial pressures. But we in Medical have already achieved victories in the past. Due to the intervention of medics, one of the group rounds from the UEFA Champions League was removed.”* *
D’Hooghe: “Regarding contact injuries, there are three important factors. The first is the referee. He is the first doctor on the field and has an important role to play in the prevention of injuries. The second point is the strict application of the rules, and the third is more fair play and respect for each other on the field.”* *
D’Hooghe: “FIFA has zero tolerance of doping. It goes against the ethics of our sport, the integrity of our competitions and is a threat to the good health of our athletes. In terms of substance abuse, it is also important that we talk about the use of useless medications. According to the results of our research, players take many drugs in the 72 hours before a match that in many cases have no sense.”
Sudden cardiac arrest
D’Hooghe on defibrillators: “FIFA is already giving money to the member associations so why should this not be spent on such a useful thing?”
Dvorak: “Our research into this topic is making us aware of nameless people who may be dying due to unknown underlying disease. We will push our research at FIFA to get more info about the underlying pathology.
“From now on, each MA will register these kinds of incidence and report them to us so we can analyse the underlying pathology. Through football we might learn a lot for the general population. We still don’t know why 13-15 year olds die from cardiac arrest. This prospective registry will be a source of extremely valuable info for scientists. We are very open to sharing this information with the scientific community.”