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Retrospective study of the use of medication and supplements during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
  1. Chelsea Oester,
  2. Alexis Weber,
  3. Martin Vaso
  1. Fédération Internationale de Football Association, Zurich, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Chelsea Oester; chelsea.oester{at}


Objective Examine the intake of medication and supplements used by top-level players during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

Participants 736 top-level players

Setting The team doctors uploaded a list of the medications used by each player to the online reporting tool within 72 hours of each match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

Outcome measures Average number of medications used per player per match and during the tournament; average number and percentage of players using at least one medication per match and during the tournament.

Results 54% of the players took at least one medication during the tournament and 39% took at least one medication before each match. The most used medications were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) (38.6%), followed by other analgesics (13.8%) and medications for insomnia and anxiety (13%). On average, 0.72 medications were taken per player per match and 1.32 per player during the tournament. The mean number of medication intake per player per match was higher during the knockout stage compared with the group stage (0.88±1.36 vs 0.65±1.08, p<0.001). Players from South America and North and Central America took more medications per match compared with the players from Africa (0.9±1.14 and 0.98±1.1 vs 0.48±0.83, p<0.001 in both cases).

Conclusion The intake of NSAIDs decreased during the 2018 FIFA World Cup compared with previous FIFA World Cups, but stayed at a high level. The high number of medications taken is a cause for concern, and therefore, players, medical staff and coaches should be made more aware of the possible side effects of a high medication intake.

  • football
  • soccer
  • medication
  • supplement
  • NSAIDs
  • analgesics
  • World Cup

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  • Contributors All authors were involved in the study design and in the draft of this report.

  • Funding FIFA – MV, AW and CO were all funded by FIFA.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee of Zurich, Switzerland (Kantonale Ethikkommission). Informed consent was obtained in writing.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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