FIFA increasing efforts in sport for health leadership – hats off to a role model federation













Budapest May 24th: FIFA provide a landmark in ‘implementation’ and ‘dissemination’ by including their 2nd Medical Congress within the ’62nd FIFA Congress’. This may not seem like a major deal for those unfamiliar with the way sporting federations work but it is right up there with iPhone as an innovation. Why do I say that?

Sport is generally about sport. It’s not about sports medicine. Thus, most sporting federations don’t allocate 1% of their resources to injury prevention or health promotion. Now focusing on the positive, FIFA have supported a dedicated applied research unit (F-MARC) and are working extremely hard to get the research implemented. Unarguable success stories include (i) reduced concussions due to red cards for elbows to the head,  (ii) superior preventive care of referees, (iii) a well-researched and implemented cardiac screening program before all World Cup games (PCMA), (iv) the 11+ complete warmup program, a well-researched lower-limb injury prevention program (in partnership with Santa Monica and Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre) and a commitment to having AEDs at all football games (the ABC of football where A stands for AED). And the jewel in the crown of FIFA social responsibility – the 11 for Health. This is an educational program, run though elementary schools, addressing communicable and noncommunicable diseases.

Rather than just publish (230 publications by the F-MARC group since 1996) the FIFA leadership (the ‘football part’) is working to roll these advances out in real life. Research into action. As Jiri Dvorak has famously said, ‘When football speaks, people listen’.  More tomorrow but today it’s hats off to FIFA and their leadership team including @SeppBlatter and Dr Michel D’Hooge.

There is room for all sporting Federations to do this and if BJSM has missed a success story we’d be delighted to share it. That’s our job – sharing success stories so that the sporting community benefits. And wearing our public health hats (big hat day today), everyone is part of the sporting/physical activity community.

Declaration of interest: As BJSM Editor, Karim Khan works with leaders from BJSM’s 8 member societies and with sporting federations that address injury prevention. Existing federation relationships include FIVB (volleyball), the IOC through its support of BJSM’s IPHP issues and football (FIFA). Karim was an invited speaker at the FIFA medical congress (on the role of social media and journals as communication tools and implementation of research findings). His accommodation and meals were paid for by FIFA during the Congress, as was his airfare from Budapest to Oslo. Karim doesn’t drink alcohol.



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