40 per cent of Euro 2012 players expected to be dosed up on painkillers
OTP saw a stat that told us that there had been more player withdrawals from preliminary Euro 2012 squads than any other European Championships in history. The current figure – to which England made a handsome contribution – sits at 57.
That huge glut of injuries may well be explained by the incredible number of players masking severe injuries by pumping themselves full of painkillers. That suspicion has gained a damming confirmation from FIFA’s chief medical officer Dr Jiri Dvorak.
The FIFA professor – a title befitting of an R-rated horror film – revealed in a recent study that 39 per cent of players at the 2010 World Cup were taking pain medication and anti-inflammatories prior to every game. A stat that suggests that nearly half the England squad is on first name terms with their local chemist.
John Terry must be the most common recipient given the almost weekly ‘battling injury’ reports we hear about the Chelsea captain. If that is the case, that means he remains the most inflammatory man in the nation despite a diet of anti-inflammatories.
The report – published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine – suggested that the common practice is spiraling out of control.
Dvorak said: “The use of medication reported by the team physicians in international football competition is increasing. Systematic use — medication for every match — appeared to be the norm in certain teams. This has implications for player health.”
If you are of the thinking that such a practice is a trivial inconvenience for a bunch of show ponies, bear in mind the most distasteful discovery of all: the survey showed that some countries were issuing more than three medications per player per game.
That finding and the overall report makes for rather alarming reading. It illustrates a trend that is tantamount to abuse and one that can encourage chronic long-term injury and corrosive addictions.
The report certainly shines a light on both the immense desire to represent your nation and the huge pressure on medical staff to deliver their team’s players to the kick-off whistle.
It’s a short-sighted view of success entirely in keeping with the nature of the sport. We can only assume that the club game has the same curse. Indeed the payback of seemingly ‘pausing’ an injury at club level has already dealt a blow to England’s Euro 2012 hopes.
Tottenham Hotspur full-back Kyle Walker broke his toe against Bolton at the end of the season. Six weeks off to rest up? Not quite. The 22 year-old was given a painkilling injection that saw him play with a fracture for the final two league games, a decision that denied the Three Lions of one of their most promising young players and ultimately showed a disregard for Walker’s health.
Every year there is a clamor from teams (both national and domestic) to have a winter break to allow players to fully recuperate their bodies. This report has made that request seem increasingly laced with hypocrisy.
And to illustrate the point, check out the video at the top of the post of a young Fabio Cannavaro being hooked up to a painkilling drip in a hotel room ahead of a match.