Thoughts and impressions midway through the FIFA Sports Medicine Diploma

By Nash Anderson

I first heard about the FIFA Sports Medicine Diploma in 2015 and was impressed to hear that a free course existed from the sporting organisation body FIFA.1 I started the course in June 2016 for two reasons. Firstly, I had more free time this year and I was curious to see this new course created by world leading clinicians. Secondly, I have worked on the sideline for various sporting codes over the years however never football specifically. I hoped this course would help me to develop my knowledge and confidence in football medicine for not only any potential sideline work in football but also for dealing more proficiently with my football playing patients. Below I share some pertinent information and my personal experience thus far.

ref standing footballWhat is the FIFA Sports Medicine Diploma?

The Diploma is a free course by FIFA covering major medical and musculoskeletal issues in football. It also covers ‘special topics’ including: event planning, team travel, female athletes, anti-doping and more. More modules are added regularly. The aim is to provide a total of 42 modules, one from each of the FIFA Medical Centres of Excellence. 1

The course shares clinical experience and evidence from lead researchers as well as the theoretical knowledge amassed by F-MARC over the last 22 years.

Who is F-MARC?

The FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC), established in 1994, is a prestigious independent research body of FIFA uniting an international group of experts in football medicine.2 They are world leaders in football medicine and have produced hundreds of publications in peer-reviewed journals. 3

Besides research and educational courses,3 they have been involved in many initiatives including: improved screening for sudden cardiac arrest; the FIFA Sudden Death Registry;4 5 the FIFA 11+, an effective programme to prevent football injuries in various player groups worldwide; 6 as well the FIFA 11 for Health program. 7 The FIFA 11 for Health program illustrates the health benefits of football for population groups. One such recent example is that small-sided football in schools and leisure-time sport clubs improves physical fitness, health profile, well-being and learning in children. 8

Why is the FIFA Sports Medicine Diploma essential to clinicians interested in football medicine?

“Education is the key to prevention and therefore FIFA supports the “Diploma in Football Medicine” for doctors, physiotherapists and paramedical staff”

– Prof Jiří Dvořák. FIFA Chief Medical Officer & F-MARC Chairman.1

After completing these modules, participants will be better able to identify and treat injuries and illnesses as well as be more aware of injury and illness-prevention programmes. Due to the great breadth of topics there is something to learn even for the most experienced football medicine clinicians.

The FIFA Sports Medicine Diploma is essential to create an education platform for multidisciplinary cooperation. In turn, football will become a more safe 6 and rewarding pursuit for patients, athletes, clinicians and football associations.

I have currently completed a number of modules. Here are some of thoughts thus far:


  • Free. A free resource from a leading sports medicine organisation.
  • Comprehensive resource. This course covers a variety of topics. This is not just a course but also a brief online sports encyclopaedia.
  • All-star line up. In addition to up to date topics, modules are written by international experts with a wealth of practical and academic experience. The curriculum also includes insights from high-profile players.
  • Multidisciplinary depth of topics. MSK topics are generally broken down into initial presentations, radiological investigations, physical therapies, reasons for referral and surgical options. This helps to establish clear roles for football organisations and clinicians.
  • Excellent testing and feedback. Knowledge is tested using multiple-choice questions; however, if you do not select the correct answer, it prompts constructive feedback.
  • Web based course. Being entirely web based, participants can engage in content through multiple platforms, such as PCs and smartphones. There is also synchronisation between devices.
  • There are no deadlines! The course can be completed online at your own pace.

Constructive feedback

  • Technical. I have thoroughly enjoyed the depth of the content. Although one website comment suggested that the course was for “anyone with an interest in sports medicine”. I believe that may be a stretch. The original target audience was sports physicians and, although somewhat simplified, it is still very technical for “anyone with an interest”.
  • Where to go for practical skill growth? Although this course is very accessible and the practical assessment videos hugely helpful, I am interested to see what steps or courses FIFA recommends for clinicians for further practical skill development beyond the FIFA Sport Medicine Diploma, the FIFA Sports First Aid and their FIFA Nutrition Course.
  • Football Medicine Manual, web version please! 9
  • The key resource for this course is currently only in PDF form. On smaller devices it is difficult to read. A web enabled version would enable enhanced readability on all mediums such as PC and smartphone. This is, however, only a criticism to user friendliness of the manual and not its content.

Thank you to the F-MARC Team for producing an excellent and free resource. Kudos in particular to Dr Mark Fulcher, the New Zealand team doctor and editor-in-chief of the project. I look forward to viewing more modules in the future including as of yet unreleased modules.

I would also like to thank Dr. Reidar Lystad @RLystad for his assistance with this blog and the support of the BJSM @bjsm_bmj dream team for letting me share my thoughts.


For further information and to sign up for the course please visit:

You can download the Football Medicine Manual from here:

Also here you can also read the BJSM Course review on The FIFA Sports Medicine Diploma from Adam Culvenor. 10



Nash Anderson is a Chiropractor in private practice in Farnham. He has a special interest in sideline care, sports medicine and created, an open access health and sports medicine resource for clinicians and the public. He enjoys working pitch side and has recently finished up with the Farnham Knights American Football team but still works to provide care at cycling events with @roadsideteam. You can follow him on Twitter (@sportmednews).



  1. F-MARC. Football Medicine Diploma | FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine 2016 [Available from:
  2. Excellence FMCo. FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence – FIFA & F-MARC: FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence; 2016 [Available from:
  3. F-MARC. FOOTBALL MEDICINE the complex medico-social milieu 2016 [Football Medicine Courses provided]. Available from:
  4. Kramer EB, Dvorak J, Schmied C, et al. F-MARC: promoting the prevention and management of sudden cardiac arrest in football. Br J Sports Med 2015;49(9):597-8.
  5. Scharhag J, Bohm P, Dvorak J, et al. F-MARC: the FIFA Sudden Death Registry (FIFA-SDR). Br J Sports Med 2015;49(9):563-5.
  6. Bizzini M, Dvorak J. FIFA 11+: an effective programme to prevent football injuries in various player groups worldwide-a narrative review. Br J Sports Med 2015;49(9):577-9.
  7. F-MARC. FIFA 11 for Health 2016 [Available from:
  8. Krustrup P, Dvorak J, Bangsbo J. Small-sided football in schools and leisure-time sport clubs improves physical fitness, health profile, well-being and learning in children. Br J Sports Med 2016.
  9. (FIFA) FIFA. Football Medicine Handbook. In: FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) FMOc, Production F, eds.
  10. Culvenor AG. FIFA Diploma in Football Medicine: free knowledge from expert clinicians to improve sports medicine care for all football players (continuing professional development series). Br J Sports Med 2016.


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