The role of medicine and the team doctor in football has become crucial in the modern-day game – with UEFA making its own vital contribution to the area of football medicine, injuries and sports science.
All UEFA's medical projects are managed by UEFA's medical unit under the direction of the medical committee, which is made up of 13 elite football doctors from around Europe, most of whom are either current or previous national team doctors with specialisms in orthopedics, cardiology and sports medicine.
Minimum medical requirements
UEFA has introduced minimum medical requirements at UEFA competition matches from the start of the 2012/13 season, 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.
UEFA medical regulations specify a detailed medical screening process which players undertake prior to their participation in UEFA football competition.
UEFA's anti-doping programme involves urine and blood testing in and out of competition, with regular unannounced doping controls conducted for the full duration of the competition. Tests include screening for substances such as EPO and human growth hormone. All samples are collected by medical doctors appointed by UEFA and are analysed at WADA-accredited laboratories.
UEFA medical symposiums bring together experts from clubs, associations and the wider football family to review and discuss key medical issues in football such as prevention of injuries, sports medicine, women's and youth football, and current and future developments in football medicine. The latest UEFA Medical Symposium took place in February 2014.
The European governing body's UEFA Elite Club Injury Study has been in operation since 2001 and provides an unparalleled historical archive of football-specific injury data. This data provides vital information for clubs, associations and the wider scientific community about injury patterns, risks, the likely prevalence of certain injury types and expected 'return to play' times. Similar injury studies are also conducted at each final tournament of the UEFA European Championship.
Football Doctor Education Programme
UEFA has implemented an education and training programme for the football doctors of all 54 national UEFA associations. The programme covers emergency treatment techniques, injury management, anti-doping and the role of the football doctor. The aim is to set new standards by disseminating medical knowledge and expertise.