A University of Leicester risk management expert, working with FIFA to investigate football injuries, is taking a new look at an old problem.
Dr Colin Fuller, who is a lecturer in the University's Scarman Centre and is known for his research into health and safety management in the workplace, is currently applying the same risk management principles to professional football.
Explaining the line his research takes, Colin Fuller said: "I look at the football ground as a place of work. So, I examine objects and the other people on the pitch as potential hazards for the footballers. In this sense, it is no different from a risk assessment in any industrial or commercial workplace.
"I also consider the impact of injuries on the financial viability of clubs and the long-term impact on the health of players. Most people do not think of a £10 million footballer as a business asset. However, if you consider football as a business, the number of injuries, which prevent players from playing football, is a much higher risk than that arising from injuries in most other high risk occupations, such as the construction industry or working on oil rigs."
Dr Fuller is currently collaborating with Professor Jiri Dvorak, a consultant physician in Switzerland and Chairman of FIFA’s Medical Assessment and Research Centre, to assess the causes of injuries in World Cup competitions.
From the 9th to 11th November, Dr Fuller attended the first ever FIFA Sports Medical Conference in Zurich in order to present the initial results from the France 1998 World Cup and the New Zealand 1999 Under-17 World Cup. Colin Fuller was the only delegate from England to give a presentation to fellow delegates at the conference, who were the technical directors and medical specialists from footballing nations all around the world.
Colin Fuller's paper addressed the relationship between tackles, fouls and injuries. He said: "A lot of people assume that players become injured because of fouls. We are assessing the proportion of foul and non-foul tackles that result in injuries together with the types of tackle that cause these injuries to players. Contrary to popular opinion, there is very little difference, in terms of injury rates, between a foul and non-foul tackle. In future, the research will results will be used to provide scientific evidence to support any review of the rules of football that may be undertaken by FIFA.
Note to editors: Further information is available from Dr Colin Fuller, Lecturer, Scarman Centre, University of Leicester, telephone 0116 252 5702, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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