The role of the medical sector in football has become crucial in the modern-day game – with UEFA making its own vital contribution to the area of medicine and sports science.
From anti-doping to injury data, UEFA is keeping constantly abreast of football's medical situation in the sport's ever-changing world. Medical experts and team doctors across Europe meet within UEFA's Medical Committee to assess the latest trends, and special events are staged to keep up to date with what is happening in the medical world.
UEFA medical symposiums bring together experts from clubs, associations and elsewhere in the football family. They look at key medical issues in football, and examine specific areas such as prevention of injuries to players and referees, sports medicine and women's football, and where football's medical sector is heading in the future. Club doctors have also joined forces with UEFA to discuss developments in their own elite club forums.
UEFA's injury studies provide invaluable data about injury patterns and risks, helping to increase the safety of football and decrease the number of injuries with the aim of providing information of benefit not only to UEFA, but also to the clubs and national associations throughout Europe.
Nowadays, football asks more than whether a player can play the next game. Areas such as dermatology, physiology, psychology, pharmacology, hygiene and diets have come to prominence – along with, for example, the internationalisation of sport, jet lag and football in extreme conditions (e.g. climate, altitude).
Football medicine has also become a team sport – the medical staff have become 'the team behind the team'. Their work can never be underestimated.
In early 2012, a UEFA programme was launched in which football medical excellence will be promoted throughout the national associations. The UEFA Football Doctor Education Programme is aimed at setting new standards by disseminating football-specific medical knowledge through European football – and stressing the message that medical knowledge should be shared among experts for the overall benefit of European football. Topics being addressed in a series of workshops comprise roles and responsibilities of the doctor, emergency treatment of players, injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation and anti-doping.
UEFA has introduced minimum medical requirements at UEFA competition matches from the start of the 2012/13 season. The minimum requirements were drawn up by the UEFA Medical Committee, and are in line with UEFA's mission to ensure that hosts of UEFA matches provide players, match and team officials with a minimum standard of equipment and medical services to deal with accidents which might be life-threatening, or cause permanent injury.
Key topics relating to the world of medicine and football are also covered comprehensively in the official UEFA publication Medicine Matters, which appears on a regular basis.