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Osteoarthritis in football: FIFA/F-MARC approach
  1. Jiri Dvorak
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jiri Dvorak, FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, Schulthess Clinic, Lengghalde 2, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland; jiri.dvorak{at}

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The world governing body of football, Fédération International de Football Association (FIFA), was established in 1904 and currently has 208 member associations from around the world. There are 300 million active, registered, football players, referees, coaches, medical and paramedical personnel as well as administrators, and hundreds of thousands of organised matches are played every weekend around the globe. The popularity of the game is increasing, with the FIFA World Cup as the biggest single sporting event drawing the attention of millions of fans. Cumulatively, 30 billion TV spectators watched the 64 matches of the last FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010. Football players at all levels of play try to mimic the way the top teams present at the highest competitions.

FIFA's Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) was established in Zurich in 1994 to provide scientific evidence to protect the players' health, to reduce or prevent football injuries, and to promote football as a health-enhancing leisure activity—at that time a unique initiative of a sport's governing body.

Osteoarthritis and football

The current body of literature regarding osteoarthritis and football is far from complete. About 30 years ago, Klünder et al1 reported that osteoarthritis of the hip was significantly more frequent in retired football players than in controls. Similarly, Lindberg et al2 found osteoarthritis of the hip in 5.6% of former football players compared with 2.8% in controls. If only elite football players were regarded, the prevalence was 14%. Shepard et al3 found that ex-professional football players have an increased prevalence of osteoarthritis of the hip (13%) compared with age-matched controls (1.5%). In a survey on long-term health impacts of playing professional football in the UK,4 about half of the respondents reported to have an osteoarthritis diagnosis in at least one anatomical site, with the knee being the most …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.