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Drake Football Study: 10-year player health project

Drake Football Study Explainer

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As a key part of its commitment to player health, FIFPRO is coordinating an unprecedented 10-year study to yield new insights into the health of footballers.

Over the next decade, researchers will gather regular epidemiological information from more than 200 footballers aged 28 to 38 in England, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

This will allow them to track changes in the mental well-being of the players, and their cartilage, neurocognitive and cardiovascular health.

The Drake Football Study is seed-funded by The Drake Foundation and supported by Amsterdam University Medical Centers, the Mehiläinen NEO Hospital in Turku, Finland and Push Sports (Maastricht, the Netherlands).

The study was launched at a kick-off symposium in London in October 2019 at Arsenal's Emirates stadium.

A timely initiative

FIFPRO research shows that more than one in three active professional footballers suffer from mental health symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, disturbed sleep and distress during their often short but intense careers.

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Former footballers are also more likely to suffer from the effects of deteriorated knee joint cartilage (osteoarthritis), with 34% of retired players aged over 40 having the condition according to a FIFPRO survey in 2018.

With regards to cardiovascular health, there have been a series of devastating sudden deaths of apparently-healthy professional footballers. The study also aims to explore neurocognitive decline and a possible link to concussion.

The Drake Football Study is led and coordinated by Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge, FIFPRO’s Chief Medical Officer.