FIFPRO and FIFA have signed a three-year cooperation agreement to provide health support to hundreds of recently retired professional footballers facing the challenges that come with career transition.
Developed by FIFPRO, FIFA and Amsterdam University Medical Center, the After Career Consultation Programme will include a free initial medical examination and additional check-ups if needed, plus reading material and guidance on detraining, diet, mental health and joint pain.
From June 2021, players who have retired within the last ten years will benefit from the initiative at 42 FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence located in 30 countries.
FIFPRO’s 64 affiliated national player unions will encourage footballers dealing with difficulties during their initial retirement years to join the programme. Where there is no FIFA-accredited centre available nearby, FIFPRO and FIFA will seek to provide alternative support.
In 2018, FIFPRO piloted a consultation programme with recently retired players in the Netherlands, making the following recommendations, among others:
Detrain gradually to avoid negative physical and psychological changes.
Do at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.
To avoid joint pain, stay fit through sports such as swimming and cycling.
Take care of your mental health at this potentially vulnerable time.
FIFPRO Chief Medical Officer Prof. Vincent Gouttebarge said: “The moment when players leave the game often comes abruptly, bringing a range of mental and physical challenges. It is important they have medical guidance and support on hand. I am delighted FIFA and FIFPRO will be able to provide this for hundreds of players at what can be a difficult time in their lives.”
FIFA Medical Director Dr Andrew Massey commented: “FIFA and FIFPRO are joining forces to put first-class medical attention at the disposal of a large number of former players across the world. The aim of this project is to support retiring and retired footballers through a stage of their lives that sees an enormous change and to care for them from a holistic point of view thanks to the expert collaboration provided by FIFA’s Medical Centres of Excellence.”
In recent years, FIFA and FIFPRO have implemented various initiatives aimed at benefiting players, including the FIFA Fund for Football Players, which provides financial support to footballers who have not been paid and have no chance of receiving the wages agreed with their clubs.