FIFPro launches long-term physical and mental health study of players

FIFPRo are launching a major new physical and mental health initiative
Image: FIFPRo is launching a major new physical and mental health initiative

World players' union FIFPro will track the physical and mental health of 200 professional players over the next decade as part of a ground-breaking study, to start in October.

Currently aged between 27 and 29, the players in the longitudinal study are based in Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

Co-funded by the London-based sports research centre the Drake Foundation, Amsterdam University and Finland's Mehilainen NEO Hospital, the study will look for health changes during and after the players' careers in order to develop preventative and curative measures for future generations.

In a statement, FIFPro chief medical officer Dr Vincent Gouttebarge, the study's co-ordinator, said: "This will be the most comprehensive study of its kind in professional football.

"We will track the mental, musculoskeletal, neurocognitive and cardiovascular health of players in the later years of their career and first years of their life after football.

"This is a life-changing period for many players and tracking them during this period has never been done in such detail.

"FIFPro has conducted research on the mental health and cartilage degeneration of footballers that found these to be significant issues.

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"This 10-year longitudinal study will provide more in-depth evidence about these areas and also cover new ground."

The study will officially start on October 16 when FIFPro hosts the 'Health Challenges in Professional Football' symposium at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium.

The Football Association's head of performance medicine Dr Charlotte Cowie and Arsenal's head of medical services Dr Gary O'Driscoll will be among the speakers at that event.

The FA is also currently co-funding a huge study into football's dementia risk with the Professional Footballers' Association.

That piece of research, which started in January 2018, is being conducted by a Glasgow-based team led by Dr William Stewart and is expected to be completed next year.

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