FIFA’s chief medical officer has said that the ”abuse” of painkillers is putting the careers and long-term health of international footballers in jeopardy.
Dr Jiri Dvorak found that almost 40% (!) of the players at the 2010 World Cup were taking pain medication prior to every game, and ahead of Euro 2012, he has urged the football world to wake up to the problem.
Experts say that painkilling medication can be particularly dangerous in professional sport. In a high-intensity exercise like football, a player’s kidneys are continuously working hard, making them more vulnerable to damage from strong drugs.
Painkillers also lead to destruction of tissue because players are playing without feeling the pain – an alarm system that tells you something is wrong and that you need to rest.
This phenomena occurs mostly in national teams and not clubs.
Why? well, Euro 2012 and other short, intense national tournaments create an unbearable nationalistic pressure on doctors to make players “fit” for their “crucial” games.
Doctors do that by giving players painkillers, and players end up getting themselves hurt and worn down for their nation. It doesn’t happen in club football as much, because clubs have an interest of keeping their players fit for the long term.
They need them for a 60-game season, and not for 3-6 “crucial” matches.
The problem is that the national teams get a mandate from FIFA and UEFA to abuse the clubs’ players and send them back to their employers injured, tired and worn-out.
Clubs should have a lot more say on the matter. They send their players to Euro 2012 - players (employees) that they pay for.
Players they raised, trained and that are now worth more than 3.746 billion Euros (The total worth of 368 players in Euro 2012) . It’s a lot of money that is essentially working for UEFA in the summer.
If UEFA really cares about football, it should care firstly about footballers. They need to cut the the number of pointless games, shorten the club competitions, request smaller leagues and give players more time to rest.
Alas, this will never happen, because UEFA doesn’t really care about footballers or their health. They are here to make money off of the beautiful game.