The FA and PFA announce new call for research into neurodegenerative disorders

The FA and PFA announce new call for research into neurodegenerative disorders

The Football Association (The FA) and the PFA are now seeking applications for further independent research into neurodegenerative disorders in former professional footballers.

Following the insight provided by the ground-breaking FIELD study, The FA and the PFA will now jointly fund new independent evidence-based research into the increased risk of death from neurodegenerative disorders in former professional footballers, focusing primarily on what causes the increased risk.

The new call for research question will be: "What is the cause of the observed increased risk of death from neurodegenerative disorders in former professional footballers found in the FIELD study?"

Research applications are encouraged to address secondary questions such as the risk to current players, risks at different levels of the game, the nature of any risk in childhood, the risk in other sports and the risk in women’s as well as men’s football.

The FA’s independently-chaired Research Taskforce, has played a crucial role in this process, and this group of industry and scientific experts has helped to shape the policy, direction and decision-making when identifying specific areas for research. Starting this month, FIFA Director of Medical, Dr Andrew Massey, will be joining the Research Taskforce group and will provide further expertise and insight from football’s world governing body.

Mark Bullingham, FA Chief Executive, said: "This call for research is the next important step in our commitment to understanding more about the link between neurodegenerative disorders in former professional footballers.

"The interim findings of the FIELD study gave us some ground-breaking insight, however the parameters of the study meant that it was not able to answer exactly what causes the link, which will now be the primary focus for this research. 

Although the pandemic has impacted on our recent progress in medical research, we are now very pleased to be sending out this new call for research that’s aimed at answering our question through robust and extensive analysis.

"I’m also delighted that a FIFA Director of Medical, Dr Andrew Massey, will now be joining The FA’s Research Taskforce. This independently-chaired taskforce plays a crucial role in our overall policy and direction for research and FIFA’s involvement shows that football is united in its ambition to understand any potential risks associated with the game."

Gordon Taylor OBE, Chief Executive of the PFA said:
"In 2019, the initial findings from the FIELD Study provided the first major insights into lifelong health outcomes in former professional footballers. It was the most extensive study of its kind, not just in professional football, but within any sport globally.

"Following the landmark findings, the PFA committed to funding further research to try and improve our understanding of what specific factors caused the link between neurodegenerative disorders in former professional footballers.

"It is hoped that new research will inform protections for current players and help make the sport as safe as possible for future generations."

All interested parties should submit an initial concept document that will be assessed by members of The FA’s Research Taskforce in order to establish the potential viability and validity of any application.

How to apply

  • Click here for further information on the research and for details on how to apply.