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Keeping your top players on the pitch: the key to football medicine at a professional level
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  1. Jan Ekstrand1,2,3
  1. 1Division of Community Medicine, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  2. 2Football Research Group, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  3. 3UEFA Medical Committee, Nyon, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jan Ekstrand, Solstigen 3, S-589 43, Linköping, Sweden. jan.ekstrand{at}telia.com

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The risk of injury in professional football has been estimated at about 1000 times greater than for typical industrial occupations generally regarded as high risk.1 Hence, prevention of injury in football should be of the utmost importance, and conducting injury surveillance studies is the fundamental first step in the process of prevention.2

International football organisations are concerned about the health of players

The worldwide football organisation Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) and many national federations have all observed a high risk of injury in football and have initiated and supported research with the aim of avoiding injuries and keeping players on the pitch.

In this issue, you will discover important findings of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) injury study. However, the UCL study is limited to men's professional football in Europe, which is only one part of football over the whole world.

FIFA and its research department, F-Medical Assessment and Research Centre, have carried out many studies of great importance for football overall over a period of 18 years. Two such studies are presented. Bizzini, Junge and Dvorak (see page 803) provide an overview of the development, scientific evaluation and dissemination of FIFA's injury prevention programmes, FIFA 11 and 11 +. In these studies, FIFA has demonstrated how simple exercise-based programmes can decrease the incidence of injuries in youth and amateur players. Further, FIFA has systematically documented all injuries in world football tournaments since 1998. Junge and Dvorak present an overview of these surveys indicating that the injury incidence at matches might be influenced by the playing style, intensity of the match and refereeing (see page 782).

UEFA UCL injury study

In 2001, UEFA initiated a research project with the aim of reducing the number and severity of injuries …

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