A recent study conducted by Swedish experts indicates that high-level soccer players, excluding goalkeepers, are at an increased risk of developing degenerative brain problems compared to the general population. The findings are based on the medical reports of over 6,000 soccer players from the Swedish first division championship between 1924 and 2019.
Several sports, including rugby, American football and hockey, have previously been linked to degenerative brain problems due to the frequent head blows that players receive. The new study published by the scientific journal The Lancet Public Health aims to analyze the relationship between the most popular sport in the world, soccer, and the risk of developing dementia.
The lead author, Peter Ueda of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, said that this research confirms the hypothesis that head play could be a possible explanation for the relationship between soccer and brain diseases. It is believed that blows to the head are the primary cause of degenerative brain problems among soccer players, making outfield players more susceptible than goalkeepers.
This study is the largest that has been conducted on this issue since a previous study in Scotland in 2019 also reported that footballers were 3.5 times more likely to suffer from neurodegenerative problems. The recent findings therefore provide convincing evidence of the relationship between soccer and the increased risk of these health problems.
Players have called for more research into head injuries, with many concerned that heading the ball could lead to long-term impacts on their brain health. The findings of this study could help encourage soccer organizations around the world to take the necessary measures to protect their players and promote better health and safety practices.