UEFA's crucial cooperation with its 53 member associations for the overall benefit of European football takes a fresh step forward with the launch later this month of a programme in which football medical expertise will be exchanged throughout the national associations.
The medical aspect remains an essential component of the game, and the UEFA Football Doctor Education Programme is aimed at setting new standards by disseminating this specific knowledge through European football.
The first UEFA workshop under the programme takes place in Vienna with two four-day group sessions from 20 to 24 February; team doctors from each of the 53 FAs will be attending. This reflects the great interest in the scheme across Europe. It also emphasises the message that football-specific medical knowledge should be swapped and transmitted among experts for the common European footballing good.
The Vienna gathering will cover two topics – roles and responsibilities of the doctor and emergency treatment of players – in plenary sessions and discussion groups. Further subjects to be studied in future workshops include injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, and anti-doping.
"As modern football has progressed in recent years, the role of the team doctor has become ever more important to the success of its teams, not only in protecting the health and fitness of players, but also in providing a comprehensive and scientifically advanced medical support service," says UEFA Medical Committee chairman Dr Michel D'Hooghe.
"The role of the doctor now encompasses medical team planning and management, first aid techniques, injury prevention, health promotion, rehabilitation and many more areas, meaning that the doctor is now one of the key positions in any successful football team."
Content for the course has been developed in conjunction with the UEFA Medical Committee and sports medicine experts. "The UEFA Football Doctor Education Programme is a course designed to help football doctors across Europe develop the techniques and expertise that are an essential part of the modern football doctor's toolkit," says Dr D'Hooghe.
"The course aims to teach effective treatment techniques, share real football experiences, identify best practice, and most importantly teach doctors how to disseminate the skills learned within their own countries. This will help to develop a network of highly skilled team physicians working across European football."
• Roles and responsibilities of the doctor: Overview of the general skills and knowledge needed by the modern team doctor
• Emergency treatment of players: Instruction on advanced techniques for managing the treatment of serious and life-threatening on-field injury
• Injury prevention: Insight into the findings and practical outcomes of the UEFA injury study, one of the world's largest and longest-running sports injury studies
• Treatment and rehabilitation: Key factors contributing to effective treatment and rehabilitation of football injuries
• Anti-doping: Role of the team doctor in the anti-doping process, including testing, whereabouts and therapeutic use exemption procedures