2 min read

Survey Shows Sharp Rise In Footballers Reporting Depression Symptoms


The global football player’s union FIFPRO released results from a survey, indicating a sharp rise in the number of players reporting symptoms of depression or anxiety since the sport was either suspended or cancelled by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) global pandemic.

The results were compared to a similar survey FIFPRO conducted in December and January, and showed 22% of women players and 13% of men players who took part reported symptoms “consistent with a diagnosis of depression”, such as a lack of interest, loss of appetite, lack of energy and negative self-esteem.

In the results of the December and January survey, only 11% of women and 6% of men fit within the symptoms consistent with depression.

FIFPRO’s chief medical officer, Vincent Gouttebarge, said the survey, conducted with the Amsterdam University Medical Centre, included 1,134 male athletes, with an average age of 26, and 468 female athletes, with an average age of 23, across 16 countries.

“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,” Gouttebarge said.

“It is a time of huge uncertainty for the players and their families due to the insecurity of their future and the social isolation,” he said.

Gouttebarge also reported a positive note from the survey, with nearly 80% of players reporting they had access to sufficient resources and support for their mental health, often through their national player associations.

FIFPRO general secretary, Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, said the findings shine a light not only on footballers, but on a serious issue facing the entire world.

“We are very conscious that this is a reflection of a problem in broader society and there is no suggestion that it is more severe for our members,” Baer-Hoffmann said.

“Footballers are more similar to average society than most people think, and that is simply because of the misconceptions about how players live.

“The average contract length is under two years and the average income is close to that of the general public.

“Many are incredibly dependent on their footballing skills and are not prepared for what would come after,” he said.

In addition to the results regarding symptoms of depression, 18% of women and 16% of men reported symptoms of generalised anxiety including worry and tension, with a crossover of 11% of women and 7.5% of men reporting both sets of symptoms.

It's free to join the team!

Join the most engaged community in the Sports Business World.

Get all the latest news, insights, data, education and event updates.