FDA News Post

Medical screening, who is responsible?

Posted 23 Apr 2012 10:00PM

The recent loss of Piermario Morosini in the football world was hard to take for many including myself. I thought it would only be right to look into how football as a game has reacted to the screeing debate due to the tragic loss of Piermario Morosini and also the near miss of Fabrice Muamba.

In the past there has been no real consensus about how often screening should be done. FIFA say once every two years, UEFA say every year, in Italy it is every six months. Maybe it is now time to implement a structure that enforces specified medical research and also more regular screening of players.

However when commenting on Fabrice Muamba, Arsene Wenger argues that "It is too early to ask whether it is a lack of control, does football need to go in deeper with research or deeper in control with heart problems to stop these kind of situations. Our medical team at Arsenal tell me that there is constant ongoing research in this area and that it must continue."
It appears then that Wenger believes clubs do what they can to make sure any underlying health problems are brought to light. He adds that "He (Muamba) had regular screens everywhere; here, at Birmingham and at Bolton as well."

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini does not believe what is currently in place is good enough, demanding twice-yearly medical screenings. Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation agrees with Mancini, he told The Associated Press. "In England, we don't have complete foolproof screening tests. I think if there were foolproof tests that identified everyone at risk, it would be better. It seems then that in England at least there is a lot of disagreement on what the standard screening procedure could be. At the moment it appears to me that it is the club who takes the initiative rather than because of the FA’s enforcement.
Looking to the future England's team doctor Ian Beasley believes the new St George's Park complex will be the trigger for even more detailed health screening of players in England. He claims that “The FA will be able to monitor players from a much younger age and in far more detail. We will have the capacity to view their skeletons, monitor their heart rates, give them cardiac tests, from the youngest teams right up to the national side.” This is positive news and bodes well for the future of the game. It would allow health conditions to be spotted at an early age and this can only be a good thing for the game and the individual in question.
Italy are pretty fastidious about health screenings. They make a pretty big noise about it. I would be amazed if Piermario Morosini hadn't have been screened regularly so it just shows that these things unfortunately happen from time to time. Eugenio Martuscelli, a cardiologist at the Tor Vergata hospital in Rome claims that it would have also been difficult to identify some potential heart problems beforehand to prevent it. He does however believe that the structures of sporting medicine have to be improved. Investing in the structures of sporting medicine would mean focusing on prevention. “Many lives would be saved."

This debate is truly food for thought and it will be interesting to see what is done by the individual football governing bodies but also by FIFA and UEFA in the near future. Either way one thing for sure is that with health, prevention is always better than cure.

post by Luke Thorp, FDA