Football tournaments and the risk of accidents – prevention is key

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Many a fun game takes a serious turn for the worse in the rush for goals. Anyone taking part in a football tournament at this time is subject to the high accident risk of football – the highest for any type of sport. Here are some prevention tips for you and your team.

Every fourth sports accident happens at a football match – a total of 45,000 every year, or one every 11 minutes. Many happen at football tournaments, and often to untrained players. Big ambitions and too little training frequently occur  together. Leading to a heady cocktail of accident risk.

Fortunately, for the most part, the injuries are not too serious – bruises, strains and sprains. They hurt, for sure, but they heal again quickly.

Dr. Luzi Dubs

It's normally the legs and feet that suffer the most during a football match. Around 50% of all injuries affect the lower limbs,  the ankles and the knees.

(Source: 2018 accident statistics from SUVA, Switzerland's biggest accident insurer. Some 50% of all employees are insured with SUVA.)

Even if a football tournament sounds like fun: Sport is about performance and concentration.

Dr. Luzi Dubs

Tips for your football tournament team

You'll get it right with the help of prevention, team play, and a dose of honest self-estimation: 

  • Train! Good advance preparation forges a team bond and boosts its strength and endurance. A healthy prerequisite for the winner's podium!  
  • Wear the right kit! Even if it doesn't say it in the rules: Wear shin pads with ankle protection and preferably studded football boots. Taping or bandaging can help protect the ankles. 
  • Warm up!  Kicking off without a warm-up is generally a bad idea, whatever the sport. Warm-up training of at least 10 minutes is essential, under expert supervision if the players are untrained. Follow the FIFA 11+ example (in German). 
  • Fair play! Many accidents are due to fouls or overestimating your skills. Play fair and leave the field sooner rather than later if you feel uncomfortable or overstretched. And respect the decisions of your fellow players if they choose to stop.
  • Stay cool! If the group dynamics boil over and the tension rises, the risk of accidents is higher. And if it's a hot and sunny day, be sure to spend game breaks in the shade. Drink lots of water or isotonic drinks. – Keep off the alcohol until the final whistle. 
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    Dr. Luzi Dubs

    Specialist physician for orthopedic surgery and traumatology, consulting physician for AXA

How can accidents at football tournaments be prevented?

If you're an employee, you'll be insured against accidents and occupational diseases by your employer in accordance with the UVG/LAA. And if you work for at least 8 hours per week, you are also insured against non-occupational accidents (NOA). Depending on your sector, SUVA or another insurance company is responsible. 

Gainfully employed persons

  • Mandatory accident insurance (UVG/LAA): This covers medical expenses and temporary loss of earnings. In particularly serious cases, there is an entitlement to a disability pension under the UVG/LAA. 
  • The additional costs for a semi-private or private ward in hospital or rehabilitation are only covered if your employer has taken out supplementary insurance in addition to UVG/LAA (UVGZ/LAAC) or if you yourself have private, individual accident insurance. 

Non-gainfully employed and self-employed persons

  • Medical expenses are covered by mandatory health insurance (KVG/LAMal).
  • Separate insurance is needed to cover any loss of earnings due to an accident. For example, occupational disability insurance.
  • Unemployed persons registered with the Regional Employment Office are automatically covered under UVG/LAA.
  • Anyone taking an unpaid break from work or in training can extend the insurance coverage in their current employment within 31 days for up to 6 months at low cost with interim accident insurance

Tip: If you are injured by an opposition player, their personal liability insurance may be responsible, depending on the circumstances. In assessing the damage, the fact that playing football involves a certain amount of risk is taken into account, meaning that your own insurance coverage is also affected.

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    Alfred Egg

    Chief Claims Officer AXA Switzerland, Committee President for Property & Casualty Insurance (Swiss Insurance Association)

Visit a doctor? When, and which one?

Most lesions can be cured fully with cold packs, ointments and compresses, elevation and patience. A visit to the doctor is not normally necessary. If you do decide to see a doctor, you should first go to your general practitioner. He or she will decide if you need to see a specialist or if additional measures are necessary.

Visit your general practitioner

  • if you are unable to work or are limited in your ability to work due to the injury. In most cases, you need a medical certificate for your employer after 3 days 
  • if your condition fails to improve or even worsens after several days.
  • if you want to discuss physiotherapy or another treatment with your doctor and need a doctor's prescription.

The annual costs of treating football injuries amount to about CHF 180 million in Switzerland.

Alfred Egg, AXA

Football tournament season 2019

In the meantime, such tournaments take place practically all year round. As an example, you'll find the current dates here for your local football tournaments (in German), including full details. – Good luck and stay healthy. 

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