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English football players to join 10-year health study

Professional footballers in England will join the Drake Football Study tracking player health over a 10-year period thanks to a cooperation agreement with the Professional Footballers Association (PFA).

Researchers will collect medical data from players at age 27 and continue until after they end their career a decade later. They will track their neurocognitive, cardiovascular and cartilage condition, as well as charting their mental health.

In total more than 200 players from England, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland will  participate in the study, which is overseen by FIFPRO. It will be the most comprehensive study of its kind in professional football. The research aims to develop medical best practice for players.

“We are enthusiastic about the PFA being part of such an ambitious project,” PFA Deputy-Chief Executive Bobby Barnes said. “We strongly believe the findings which are gathered over the next 10 years will help to improve the health of future generations of players.”

Barnes is also President of FIFPRO Europe. The study is seed-funded by The Drake Foundation and supported by Amsterdam University Medical Centers, Mehiläinen NEO Hospital and Push Sports. The other player unions participating are UNFP (France), JPY (Finland), VVCS (Netherlands), NISO (Norway), SFS (Sweden) and SAFP (Switzerland).

“We are delighted that footballers in England will be involved,” Dr Vincent Gouttebarge, FIFPRO Chief Medical Officer who is leading the project, said. “We look forward to working with the PFA and other player unions to achieve significant progress in football medicine.”

The study will be officially launched at a football medicine symposium at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium on October 16th.

Speakers at the symposium include former AC Milan and Netherlands striker Marco van Basten, doctors from the England and Dutch football associations, and medical staff from Queens Park Rangers and Arsenal.

Drake Football Study: www.drakefootballstudy.org

FIFPRO: www.fifpro.org

The PFA: www.thepfa.com