A year and a half after its launch, the FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine is proving a real success story. As of 25 September 2017, the free online course had registered almost 25,000 users, with 1,200 of them having already obtained the certificate after successfully completing the 42 modules and quizzes. The initiative has triggered global interest attracting users from almost every corner of the world, with Egypt, the UK, India, Australia and the USA forming the five most represented countries.

“This is possibly FIFA’s greatest medical achievement. Anyone from any part of the world who wants to have access to all the medical knowledge and experience that we have accumulated over the years just has to click a button,” said Chairman of the FIFA Medical Committee Dr Michel D’Hooghe.

The first modules of the FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine were launched in early 2016 and all 42 modules have been available since March 2017, with  Rilind Obertinca (pictured above), a sports physiotherapist from Kosovo, becoming the first graduate a month later in April. FIFA’s objective is to improve the care of football players at all levels of the sport and to prevent some of the adverse effects of the game. The free online course is accessible to all and designed to be flexible. Users can visit a single page, complete individual modules or finish the entire course.

“Our aim was to make football medicine accessible to all. It’s free, you don’t have to be a doctor and you can do as much as you need. On many topics, such as the handling of concussion or sudden cardiac arrest, we can have a much greater reach if everyone is aware, from the team doctor to the referee, to the coaches and even the general public,” said Dr Mark Fulcher, the editor of the diploma.

Players share their experiences
Each module is written by top international experts in their respective fields, sharing written content, podcasts and video examinations as well as providing links to journal articles and other resources. High-profile players also share their experiences of injury and what they learned through their recovery. The course covers a comprehensive list of football medicine topics, ranging from injury prevention to nutrition and mental health, and from the pre-competition medical assessment to the handling of specific injuries such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

“The feedback of users has been extremely positive. We conducted a survey among graduates and the overall comments underlined that it was a great deal, which offered excellent instruction quality,” stressed Fulcher.

Given the increasing popular demand, the diploma will now be translated into Spanish and new features will be added to make it more interactive and serve the global sports medical community beyond the initial academic phase. The online platform will also include webinars, where practitioners will have the opportunity to contact their peers to ask for help and advice, as well as a blog to provide news about updated practices.

For further information, please visit the diploma webpage.

Pictured above: Rilind Obertinca, a sports physiotherapist from Kosovo, who was the first graduate in April 2017