Number of footballers with symptoms of depression has doubled during COVID lockdown, reveals survey

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13th May 2020 15:38 - Sport, Leisure and Tourism

Number of footballers with symptoms of depression has doubled during COVID lockdown: Since football games ground to a halt across the world and players have been unable to train or play - the number of footballers suffering with symptoms of depression has doubled, according to a survey by FIFPro. 

The research by the global representative for professional football players polled 1,602 footballers (1,135 male and 468 female players) in 16 countries including England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland. It found that more than a fifth of the female players polled (22%), and 13% of male players, reported experiencing feelings consistent with a diagnosis of depression.

It also found that symptoms of anxiety were prevalent for 18% of females and 16% of male professional players. This comes as many players have been required to lockdown at home - often on their own away from family and in a foreign country - in a bid to prevent the virus from spreading. 

Numbers have doubled since last survey

When compared to a survey conducted in December last year, it is not difficult to see the impact that the current situation is having on players. Where just a few months ago 11% of female players were reporting symptoms of depression, this has now doubled to 22%. Similarly, with professional male players it has more than doubled, from 6% to 13%. 

The average age of professional players surveyed for the research was 26 (male) and 23 (female).

FIFPro said that the players who have concerns over their future in the game were 'significantly more likely' to report feelings of depression or anxiety. Three-quarters of respondents said they can access the resources they need in supporting them with mental health concerns. 

FIFPro chief medical officer, Dr Vincent Gouttebarge, said:

"In football, suddenly young men and women athletes are having to cope with social isolation, a suspension of their working lives and doubts about their future. Some may not be well equipped to confront these changes and we encourage them to seek help from a person they trust or a mental health professional."

* The FIFPro survey was conducted between March 22 and April 14, 2020

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