Football player

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Football Player- Ashleigh Hopkins (Swansea City AFC - Plymouth Argyle FC) The FA UEFA 'A' Licence Coach 2013-04-19 20-52.jpg
A men's association football player
Football against poverty 2014 - Marta.jpg
A women's association football player

A football player or footballer is a sportsperson who plays one of the different types of football. The main types of football are association football, American football, Canadian football, Australian rules football, Gaelic football, rugby league and rugby union.


It has been estimated that there are 250 million association football players in the world, [1] and many play the other forms of football.


Jean-Pierre Papin has described football as a "universal language". [2] Footballers across the world and at almost any level may regularly attract large crowds of spectators, and players are the focal points of widespread social phenomena such as association football culture.

Footballers generally begin as amateurs and the best players progress to become professional players. Normally they start at a youth team (any local team) and from there, based on skill and talent, scouts offer contracts. Once signed, some learn to play better football and a few advance to the senior or professional teams.


Wages in some top men's leagues are significantly higher than other jobs. Players in the Premier League earn average wages of about $1 million per year. [3] In the wealthiest clubs in European football leagues, some players earn an average wage up to $6 to $8 million per year. [4] The best players of those clubs can earn up to $70 million per year. [5]

However, only a fraction of men's professional football players are paid at this level. Wages may be much more moderate in other divisions and leagues, and a significant number[ clarification needed ] of players are semi-professional. For example, the average annual salary for footballers in Major League Soccer (which started in 2009) for the 2013 season was $148,693, with significant variations depending on player position (goalkeepers for example earned $85,296, whereas forwards earned $251,805 [6] ).

Popularity and average salaries in women's leagues are far lower. For example, players in the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) (which started in 2012) earn $15,000 to $40,000 per year as of January 2017. [7]


Skeid coach Arild Stavrum (3408841026).jpg
Arild Stavrum is a retired football player who post-retirement has worked as a football manager and novelist.
Sweden - Denmark, 8 April 2015 (16899782868).jpg
Pia Sundhage is a retired football player who post-retirement has worked as the football manager for the United States and Sweden national teams.

A minority of retired footballers continue working full-time within football, for instance as football managers. A 1979 study reported that former first-team ballplayers were over-represented as top ranking executives in their companies and had greater income mobility than second teamers and reserves. [8] However, some experience chronic health issues, see below.

Skills and specialties

Association football specialties (positions)

In association football there are four traditional types of specialties (positions): goalkeepers (goalies), defenders (full-backs), midfielders (half-backs), forwards (attackers). Special purpose positions include such performers like sweepers, stoppers, second forwards (under-attackers), wingers, insiders, etc.

American football

The American football teams' positions are categorized by a form of play where each of it has own spectrum of positions. Those are offensive, defensive and special teams.

Psychological aspects of performance

Research shows that association football players that take less than 200ms after the referee blows their whistle for a penalty kick are significantly more likely to miss scoring than those that take over a second. [15] [16]

Health issues

Cristiano Ronaldo 20120609.jpg
Cristiano Ronaldo, an example of a "lean and muscular" men's association football player
Faith Ikidi.jpg
Faith Ikidi, an example of a "lean and muscular" women's association football player

An Irish 2002 study of association and Gaelic football players characterised players as "lean and muscular with a reasonably high level of capacity in all areas of physical performance". [17] The opposite is the case for American football, where obesity could be the cause of grave health problems. [18]

A 2000 study documented injuries sustained by Czech [association] football players at all levels: [19]

Trauma was the cause of 81.5% of the injuries and overuse was the cause of 18.5%. Joint sprains predominated (30%), followed by fractures (16%), muscle strains (15%), ligament ruptures (12%), meniscal tears and contusions (8%), and other injuries. Injuries to the knee were most prevalent (29%), followed by injuries to the ankle (19%) and spine (9%). More injuries occurred during games (59%) than in practice.

[20] Patellar tendinitis (knee pain) is considered an overused injury that also happens to other athletes of virtually every sport. It is a common problem that football players develop and can usually be treated by a quadriceps strengthening program. Jumping activities place particularly high strains on the tendon and with repetitive jumping, tearing and injury of the tendon can occur. The chronic injury and healing response results in inflammation and localized pain. [21]

Although levels of depression and pain in retired football players are on par with the societal average, [22] some players suffer from post-retirement chronic injuries. Head injuries are a particular concern.

Life expectancy

The average life expectancy or lifespan of an American football NFL player has been reported to be extremely low, only 53 to 59 years depending on playing position. [23] However, a 2012 study reported that retired NFL players have a lower death rate than men in the general population. [24] An oft-cited life expectancy of 58 years has been claimed by Sports Illustrated to be based on a myth. [25] According to a 2007 study, which also claims that little supporting data is available, retired American football players had "long and fulfilling careers with no apparent long-term detrimental effects on physical or mental health scores despite a high prevalence of arthritis". [26] One explanation is that "life expectancy" is ambiguous: it may in some contexts refer to the expected age of death of a player, and in other contexts to the expected remaining number of life years.

As for association football, a 2011 German study found that German national team players live 1.9 years less than the general male population. [27]

Football players participating in international matches for Germany have reduced longevity compared to the general population. This disadvantage was the larger, the earlier the international football player started his international career. This finding is in line with the current knowledge of life expectancy in major athletes, especially those from other team sports

A 1983 study of rugby players found that the life expectancy of All Blacks is the same as for the general population. [28]

England Women's Vs USA (16365797348).jpg
Abby Wambach, a retired player known for scoring header goals
Heading of the ball in association football can increase the risk of chronic brain damage.

American football players are prone to head injuries such as concussions. In later life, this increases the risk of dementia [29] and Alzheimer's. [30] Professional American football players self-reporting concussions are at greater risk for having depressive episodes later in life compared with those retired players self-reporting no concussions. [31] [32]

Probably due to the repeated trauma associated with heading balls, professional association football has been suggested to increase the incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. [33] In a 1987 study of former Norwegian association football national team players, one third of the players were found to have central cerebral atrophy, i.e. brain damage. [34] A 1999 study connected soccer to chronic traumatic head injury (CTHI): [35]

[P]articipation in amateur association football in general and concussion specifically is associated with impaired performance in memory and planning functions. Due to the worldwide popularity of soccer, these observations may have important public health implications


Anterior cruciate ligaments are particularly vulnerable in most types of football due to injuries that can be sustained during tackles.


An increased incidence of osteoarthritis in the hip joint has been found in retired football players. [36]


A 2012 study of association football injuries found that 19% of all injuries were muscle injuries, of which 54% affected the thigh muscles. [37]

Sleep and psychological functioning

In a 2009 study, association football was found to be associated with favourable sleep patterns and psychological functioning in adolescent male football players. [38]

The rate of suicide among NFL vets has been found to be 59% lower than in the general population. [25]

FIFA response

In 2012, FIFA released a paper intended to identify key risk factors for association football players. [39]

Longevity and factors of mortality

In 2015, a systematic review of a sample of fifty-four peer-reviewed publications and three articles on elite athletes’ mortality and longevity, resulted in major longevity outcomes for the elite athletes (baseball, football, soccer, basketball, and cycling ) "compared to age- and sex-matched controls from the general population and other athletes." The span longevities were influenced by factors like the type of sport, the playing position, the race, and the energy system. [40]

International level

An observational study held from professional footballers -active (during career) and recently retired (post career, aged more that 45 years)- of 70 different countries between 2007 and 2013, elaborated on data of the World Footballers' Union (FIFPro), recorded 214 deaths of which 25% was caused by accidents, 11% by suicides and 33% by a suspected cardiac pathology (on an overall 55% of deaths caused by a some sort of disease). [41]

Clinical evaluation, ECG and echocardiography are required to the athletes as pre-participation tools in order to prevent sudden cardiac deaths on people aged less than 35. To evaluate the risk of myocardial fibrosis, it may useful and recommended the additional use of alte gadolinium enhancement (LGE) with pre- and post-contrast and extracellular volume fraction (ECV) images. [42] Even encouraged, it wasn't yet made mandatory.

North America

In 2015, it was conducted an analysis of 205 deaths among North American professional athletes who were registered as active at time of their decease. Data were collected by the four major sports: National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Baseball (MLB). The NFL and NBA active players resulted in "a higher likelihood of dying in a car accident" and in a significantly higher likelihood of dying from a cardiac-related illness compared to the NHL and MLB active populations. [43]

In 2013, a study on 3.439 retired athletes of the National Football League s with at least 5 credited playing seasons between 1959 and 1988 didn't show any statistical correlation between the suicide mortality and the professional activity and particularly the football-related compared with the general control sample. No stratification was reported between speed and nonspeed position players. [44]


Until the 2000s a very limited number of formal studies has been published on mortality from all causes in soccer players, despite the high interest of the public to the matter. An extended study held in Italy between 1975 and 2003 on a total of 5.389 players, age 14–35 years, highlighted that, while the mortality for cancer and cardiovascular diseases among the soccer players cohort was significantly lower than the general Italian population, the "mortality rates for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and car accidents were significantly higher than expected, and for ALS the risk is 18 times than expected."<ref>{{cite book | first = Emanuela | last= Taioli | url = | title = All causes mortality in male professional soccer player | journal = European Journal of Public Health | volume = 17 | issue = 6 | date = December 2007 | pages = 600–604 | do portugal worlss best team

Lists of players

See also

Related Research Articles

Sports injury

Sports injuries are injuries that occur during sport, athletic activities, or exercising. In the United States, there are approximately 30 million teenagers and children who participate in some form of organized sport. Of those, about three million athletes age 14 years and under experience a sports injury annually. According to a study performed at Stanford University, 21 percent of the injuries observed in elite college athletes caused the athlete to miss at least one day of sport, and approximately 77 percent of these injuries involved the lower leg, ankle, or foot. In addition to those sport injuries, the leading cause of death related to sports injuries is traumatic head or neck occurrences.

Concussion Type of traumatic brain injury

A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), is a head injury that temporarily affects brain functioning. Symptoms may include loss of consciousness (LOC); memory loss; headaches; difficulty with thinking, concentration or balance; nausea; blurred vision; sleep disturbances; and mood changes. Any of these symptoms may begin immediately, or appear days after the injury. Concussion should be suspected if a person indirectly or directly hits their head and experiences any of the symptoms of concussion. It is not unusual for symptoms to last 2 weeks in adults and 4 weeks in children. Fewer than 10% of sports-related concussions among children are associated with loss of consciousness.


FieldTurf is a brand of artificial turf playing surface. It is manufactured and installed by FieldTurf Tarkett, a division of French company Tarkett Inc. FieldTurf is headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and its primary manufacturing facility is located in Calhoun, Georgia, United States. With a design intended to more accurately replicate real grass, the new product rapidly gained popularity in the late 1990s and changed the industry.

Health issues in American football

Health issues in American football comprise a large number of health risks associated with participating in the sport. Injuries are relatively common in American football, due to its nature as a full-contact game. Injuries occur during both practice and games. Several factors can affect the frequency of injuries: epidemiological studies have shown older players can be at a greater risk, while equipment and experienced coaches can reduce the risk of injury. Common injuries include strains, sprains, fractures, dislocations, and concussions. Concussions have become a concern, as they increase the risk of mental illnesses like dementia and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In individual leagues like the National Football League (NFL) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a public injury report is published containing all injured players on a team, their injury and the game-day status of each player.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy Neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head. The encephalopathy symptoms can include behavioral problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. The disease often gets worse over time and can result in dementia. It is unclear if the risk of suicide is altered.

High school football is gridiron football played by high school teams in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both countries, but its popularity is declining. According to the Washington Post, between 2009 and 2019, participation in high school football has declined by 9%.

Second-impact syndrome (SIS) occurs when the brain swells rapidly, and catastrophically, after a person suffers a second concussion before symptoms from an earlier one have subsided. This second blow may occur minutes, days or weeks after an initial concussion, and even the mildest grade of concussion can lead to second impact syndrome. The condition is often fatal, and almost everyone who is not killed is severely disabled. The cause of SIS is uncertain, but it is thought that the brain's arterioles lose their ability to regulate their diameter, and therefore lose control over cerebral blood flow, causing massive cerebral edema.

The fencing response is an unnatural position of the arms following a concussion. Immediately after moderate forces have been applied to the brainstem, the forearms are held flexed or extended for a period lasting up to several seconds after the impact. The fencing response is often observed during athletic competition involving contact, such as combat sports, American football, hockey, rugby union, rugby league and Australian rules football. It is used as an overt indicator of injury force magnitude and midbrain localization to aid in injury identification and classification for events including on-field and/or bystander observations of sports-related head injuries.

Health issues in youth sports

The health issues of youth sports are concerns regarding the health and wellbeing of young people between the ages of 6 and 18 who participate in an organized sport. Given that these athletes are physically and mentally underdeveloped, they are particularly susceptible to heat illness, eating disorders and injury; sufficiently severe conditions can result in death. Awareness and prevention are key factors in preventing many health issues in youth sports.

Helmet-to-helmet collision Dangerous contact in gridiron football

Helmet-to-helmet collisions are occurrences in gridiron football when two players' helmets make head-to-head contact with a high degree of force. Intentionally causing a helmet-to-helmet collision is a penalty in most football leagues, including many high school leagues.

Health issues of athletics concern the health and well-being of athletes who participate in an organized sport. If athletes are physically and mentally underdeveloped, they are susceptible to mental or physical problems. Athletes trying to improve their performance in sports can harm themselves by overtraining, adopting eating habits that damage them physically or psychologically, and using steroids or supplements.

Prevention of concussions

Prevention of mild traumatic brain injury involves taking general measures to prevent traumatic brain injury, such as wearing seat belts and using airbags in cars. Older people are encouraged to try to prevent falls, for example by keeping floors free of clutter and wearing thin, flat, shoes with hard soles that do not interfere with balance.

Bennet Omalu Nigerian-American pathologist

Bennet Ifeakandu Omalu is a Nigerian-American physician, forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who was the first to discover and publish findings on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in American football players while working at the Allegheny County coroner's office in Pittsburgh. He later became the chief medical examiner for San Joaquin County, California, and is a professor at the University of California, Davis, department of medical pathology and laboratory medicine. He is currently the President and Medical Director of Bennet Omalu Pathology

Concussions and other types of repetitive play-related head blows in American football have been shown to be the cause of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has led to player deaths and other debilitating symptoms after retirement, including memory loss, depression, anxiety, headaches, stress, and sleep disturbances.

Concussions, a type of mild traumatic brain injury, are a frequent concern for those playing sports, from children and teenagers to professional athletes. Repeated concussions are a known cause of various neurological disorders, most notably chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which in professional athletes has led to premature retirement, erratic behavior and even suicide. In the context of sports-related concussions (SRC), an SRC is currently defined as a "complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by biomechanical forces". Because concussions cannot be seen on X-rays or CT scans, attempts to prevent concussions have been difficult.

A sports-related traumatic brain injury is a serious accident which may lead to significant morbidity or mortality. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) in sports are usually a result of physical contact with another person or stationary object, these sports may include boxing, gridiron football, field/ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, rugby, soccer, wrestling, auto racing, cycling, equestrian, roller blading, skateboarding, skiing or snowboarding.

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a blow, jolt or penetration to the head that disrupts the function of the brain. Most TBIs are caused by falls, jumps, motor vehicle traffic crashes, being struck by a person or a blunt object, and assault. Student-athletes may be put at risk in school sports, creating concern about concussions and brain injury. A concussion can be caused by

Concussions in rugby union

Concussions in England's professional rugby union are the most common injury received. Concussion can occur where an individual experiences an impact to the head, and commonly occurs in high-contact sporting activities, including American football, boxing, MMA and the rugby codes. It can also occur in recreational activities like horse riding, jumping, cycling, and skiing. The reason being that it doesn't have to be something to strike you in the proximity of your brain, but can also be caused by rapid change of movement, giving the skull not enough time to move with your body, causing your brain to press against your skull. With rugby being such a contact and fast moving sport, it is no wonder why there is concussion and other head injuries occurring. With the development of equipment and training methods, these will help benefit the players on the field know what could happen and how they can help with preventing it.

Joseph Maroon is an American neurosurgeon, author, and triathlon athlete. He is the professor and vice chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and is the current medical director of WWE. He is particularly known for his work studying concussions and concussion prevention as well as his hypothesis on the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Most documented cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy have occurred in athletes involved in contact sports such as boxing, American football, wrestling, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, rugby and soccer. Other risk factors include being in the military, prior domestic violence, and repeated banging of the head. The exact amount of trauma required for the condition to occur is unknown. Below is a list of notable cases of CTE in sports.


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