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Twenty years of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre: from ‘Medicine for Football’ to ‘Football for Health’
  1. Jiri Dvorak1,2,3,
  2. Astrid Junge2,3,4
  1. 1Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Zurich, Switzerland
  2. 2FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC), Zurich, Switzerland
  3. 3Schulthess Clinic, Zurich, Switzerland
  4. 4Medical School Hamburg (MSH), Hamburg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Professor Jiri Dvorak, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), Zurich 8048, Switzerland; jiri.dvorak{at}f-marc.com

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In 1994 Joseph S Blatter, President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), asked: “What can medicine and science do to improve the game of football?” Although a simple question, it led to the founding of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) during the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA. The objective of F-MARC was to reduce football injuries at all levels of play, and to promote football as a health enhancing leisure activity improving social behaviour.

Medicine for football—a brief history

In 1994, epidemiological data on the incidence of injuries during major football competitions were scarce. Thus, F-MARC established an injury surveillance system at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France, and has routinely implemented it at all subsequent FIFA competitions.1 This database now enables comparison of the incidence and characteristics of injury between competitions for different age, gender and skill-levels and over time. From the 2002 to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the incidence of injuries decreased by 37%.2 Reasons for the decrease might be the better preparation of the players for the competition, the strict application of the Laws of the Game by the referees, and also the improved approach of the players towards Fair-Play.

Since the large majority of the 300 million football players around the world are recreational players, F-MARC developed an injury prevention programme for these players based on scientific evidence and best practice. The ‘FIFA 11+’ programme was rigorously tested using randomised controlled studies jointly with the Oslo Sports Trauma Centre (Norway),3 and jointly with the NCAA and the Santa Monica Medical Centre (USA).4 Bizzini and Dvorak5 summarise the scientific evidence of the effectiveness of ‘FIFA 11+’ in reducing injuries by up to 50% if performed regularly.

Since 2009, FIFA has disseminated the ‘FIFA 11+’ through the network of its 209 Member …

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