Tuesday 06 February 2024, 17:30

Gianni Infantino speaks of the importance of players’ welfare as he opens FIFA Medical Conference in Boston

  • Participants discuss the latest scientific developments with medical representatives from FIFA’s Member Associations and the confederations

  • Focus of the conference is on promoting the welfare of players at all levels

  • Robert Kraft and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also addressed the event which is being live-streamed on FIFA.com

Gianni Infantino spoke of the importance that FIFA places on welfare of players as he opened the FIFA Medical Conference, a landmark gathering of medical professionals from the FIFA Member Associations and the confederations taking place on 6 and 7 February 2024 in Boston, United States. The two-day conference is part of FIFA’s objective of uniting football medicine globally, promoting the development and implementation of high-quality scientific research and empowering FIFA Member Associations and confederations to improve player health.

Delegates listen to the opening speech by FIFA President Gianni Infantino

"What you are discussing here...is of crucial importance for the future of our game. We care about football. We care about our game. And that's why, obviously, we care as well about everyone who is involved in the game, in particular the players," the FIFA President said in his address. "And for this reason, you are here to help us and to help the world make progress and [take] steps forward in the protection of the health of the players and all those who surround them."

Mr Infantino said the conference would be crucial for the advancement of medical science in football. "We all had to deal with COVID (-19) not so long ago and to return to football from COVID (-19) and we all managed to do it together in the best possible way. So, we'll have to continue to invest in medical research, in medical activity, in technology as well helping medicine." He added: "The other very important element that we should never forget is education. We need always to invest in education."

The event features contributions from medical experts from all over the world and focuses on the latest scientific research and medical advancements throughout football and FIFA’s role in promoting the health of players at all levels. FIFA’s commitment to player welfare and the need to promote a debate based on scientific evidence is one of the topics on the agenda along with female player health and performance. The conference will also hear about and discuss FIFA’s comprehensive framework of medical services and research aimed at key medical topics. In a video address to the conference, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke of the health benefits of playing football.

 WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivers a video message during the FIFA Medical Conference 2024

“Football and other sports help to prevent heart diseases, cancer and diabetes and can also improve mental health and well-being,” he said, adding that the partnership between WHO and FIFA had been a valuable tool in promoting physical activity and healthy food, including at the FIFA World Cup™. “Still, too many girls and women are significantly less active than boys and men. Football can help to change this by addressing barriers to participation, such as social norms, or lack of opportunities and support,” he said. “Sport medicine has driven the enormous increase in knowledge we have on the benefits of sport participation.” Delegates were welcomed by Robert Kraft, the owner of Major League Soccer club New England Revolution and NFL team New England Patriots. ”I hear first-hand all the good that you do all the time, and the work you will do for the health and success of soccer players around the world,” he said. “Without you, there is no FIFA. You protect the players, from the grassroots level to the world’s largest pitches. You improve their ability and quality of life on the field, and you help sustain much success.”

FIFA Medical