Strength and performance versus mental health in the world of football | Sports Reports and analysis of the most important sporting events from DW Arabia | DW


Two weeks ago, the midfielder for Iceland and Germany’s Darmstadt team, Victor Balson, gave an emotional press interview. The 29-year-old spoke about the grief he went through after his mother’s death, losing eight kilograms of weight and crying in front of his old son Three years, in what he described as a “dark period”.

Palson’s willingness to talk about topics rarely discussed in the world of football reflects the change and openness the world is witnessing about everything related to mental health. However, there are question marks about the development in football in this field, as Palson says, in his interview published on the Darmstadt website: “In the field of professional sports, the importance of staying strong and always moving forward is often announced … there must be an acceptance of suffering. Due to psychological crises and seeking help. “

The positive side of the crisis!

In an interview conducted by DW, Alex Mills, Education and Sports Participation Officer at Sporting Chance, a group dedicated to mental health in sports in the United Kingdom, explains how the pandemic has led to a pivotal change in attitudes towards mental health.

Mills believes that the pandemic “provided a golden opportunity in a terrifying situation,” where talk about mental health can start in the field of sports. Mills says: “Dealing with your psychological state does not have to be about very intense situations, because this means a failure to understand what is meant. With emotional cognition, that is, being aware of your thoughts and feelings, and using coping mechanisms and building resistance that includes seeking help and support.

Achievement ability versus mental health!

Although Mills is happy with current discussions of mental health, the problem remains with the belief that emotions disrupt performance. In an interview conducted by DW, the Secretary-General of the International Federation of Players (FIFPRO), Jonas Bayer-Hoffmann, explains that the current concern for mental health is taking place with the aim of “raising the capacity for achievement.” And on Twitter, the federation warns that “the fight for the sake of justice” On the negative impact of football on a player’s health, it turned out to be a long and difficult process. ”

For his part, sports psychologist Thorston Lieber, in an interview with DW, explains that some clubs and coaches are able to protect the player during crises, but it depends on the presence of someone interested in the matter. “If the coach thinks it matters, then often there will be understanding and protection,” says Lieber.

It also depends on the player’s willingness to talk with the coach about his psychological problems. The English player Danny Rosa is a rare example of a football player who openly talks about his suffering, witnessing a significant decrease in his chances of participating in matches with his team at the time.

Lieber confirms that some players seek help but do not speak publicly about the matter, adding: “Once you start carrying a crisis with you, you will also be more vulnerable to attack by the fans or the press. Unfortunately you never know how the audience will interact. “

Bayer-Hoffmann believes that the recent announcement of the creation of the alternative European Super League and the failure to discuss the players about the matter “supports the idea of ​​increasing the perception of them as commodities and not as human beings.”

Danny Rose football player Newcastle United

Danny Rosa has moved out of his club in search of an opportunity to be more involved in the game

Global crisis!

Bayer-Hoffmann warns that the situation is looking worse at the international level because footballers are not bound by long-term employment contracts in some countries of the world. While it is natural for clubs to strive to maintain the quality of their performance if they commit to long-term financial contracts, countries in which this situation differs consider the issue of mental health completely differently.

“I think in most of the countries in which we work, mental health is not a priority for decision-makers during the pandemic period,” says Jonas Bayer-Hoffmann. I think it comes with a certain degree of economic sophistication and ability. If you don’t have the money to pay the team’s dues, it is clear that you will not be able to pay a psychologist. “

The same applies to female footballers, as the problems of short-term employment contracts and low income mix with the playing conditions in foreign countries during the pandemic, creating a psychological challenge in an isolated situation.

Mills believes that the solution lies in achieving a balance between the clubs ‘interest in physical and psychological health, as well as the clubs’ cooperation with the institutions concerned.

The Premier League clubs recently decided to include a member of the boards of each club responsible for mental health. She also stressed the need for team players to receive mandatory mental health education.

Jonathan Harding / Dina Al-Basnali


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