Usually, the first encounter of a player with a doctor is once he gets injured - be it an ankle sprain, a muscle contusion or a more serious problem like a meniscus lesion, ligament tear of the knee, or a fracture. Whatever you suffer from, when and in what condition you return to the pitch depends on the exact diagnosis, immediate and adequate treatment and careful rehabilitation.
Often, your general practitioner or a sports physician will be able to help you. However, with increasing level of play and ambition, or with more complicated problems, you may wish to see a qualified expert to ensure that you really get the best treatment and aftercare possible. But how to find such an expert?
Football medicine has considerably evolved in the last decade with an increasing body of knowledge accumulated, not least thanks to the activities of the FIFA Medical Research and Assessment Centre (F-MARC). The vision of FIFA behind creating a network of Medical Centres of Excellence across the world is to ensure that players on all continents know where to go for expert care in football medicine. The first FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence at the Schulthess clinic in Zurich opened in May 2005, five more carefully selected centres followed in 2007.
However, these experts have much more to offer than only diagnosis and treatment of injuries. They can teach you how to prevent injuries in the first place. They can assess your performance in detail and advise you on how to compensate bodily deficits and further improve them by specific training strategies. They show you what and when to eat to make the most of nutrients which are able to enhance your performance by legal means. They help you to become a better player.
"We want every player to fully benefit from prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, as well as optimisation of their performance based on the state-of-the-art in football medicine," says Prof. Jiri Dvorak, FIFA Chief Medical Officer and Chairman of F-MARC.
Currently, the following FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence are officially accredited:
- UniSport Sports Medicine Centre, Auckland
- Centre for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg/South Africa
- Orthopaedic Clinic Munich-Harlaching, Munich/Germany
- Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group
- Schulthess Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland
- St Marianna University School of Medicine, Kawasaki, Japan
- UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science & Sports Medicine, University of Cape Town and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa
- Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center
- ASPETAR - Qatar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital
- Universitätsklinikum Regensburg
- Isokinetic Medical Group, Bologna, Italy
- Clinique Chahrazed – Département Médecine et Traumatologie du Sport, Cheraga, Algeria
- Duke University Medical Center, Durham, USA
- Sport Med ‘Clínica de Medicina del Deporte’, Guadalajara, Mexico
- Department of Orthopaedics of the 1st Faculty of Medicine of Charles University and Teaching Hospital na Bulovce, Prague, Czech Republic
- Institut für Sport- und Präventivmedizin, Saarbrucken, Germany
- Instituto de Ortopedia e Traumatologia da FMUSP, São Paulo, Brazil
- The Sports Medical Centre of the Royal Netherlands Football Association, Zeist, Netherlands
- Stockholm Sports Trauma Research Center (SSTRC)
- FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence – Rome
- Uzsoki Hospital and Semmelweis University Heart Centre, Budapest
- The Stedelijk Ziekenhuis Roeselare, Belgium