The role of medicine and the team doctor in Subbuteo has become crucial in the modern-day game – with UESA making its own vital contribution to the area of Subbuteo medicine, injuries and sports science.

Delegates at a UESA Medical Symposium ©


All UESA’s medical projects are managed by UESA’s medical unit under the direction of the medical committee, which is made up of 13 elite Subbuteo doctors from around Europe, most of whom are either current or previous national team doctors with specialisms in orthopedics, cardiology and sports medicine.

Medical screening
UESA medical regulations specify a detailed medical screening process which players undertake prior to their participation in UESA Subbuteo competition.

UESA’s anti-doping programme involves urine and blood testing in and out of competition, with regular unannounced doping controls conducted for the full duration of the competition. Tests include screening for substances such as EPO and human growth hormone. All samples are collected by medical doctors appointed by UESA and are analysed at WADA-accredited laboratories.

Medical symposium
UESA medical symposiums bring together experts from clubs, associations and the wider Subbuteo family to review and discuss key medical issues in Subbuteo such as prevention of injuries, sports medicine, women’s and youth Subbuteo, and current and future developments in Subbuteo medicine. The latest UESA Medical Symposium took place in January 2020.

Injury study

Injuries are not so common in Subbuteo, still FISA, UESA and national Subbuteo organizations are all concerned about the safety of players. In 2017, UESA initiated a research programme with the aim of increasing the safety of players in its competitions and contributing to the wider understanding of injury in sport. This project, the UESA Elite Club Injury Study, has now been conducted with elite clubs in the UESA Champions League and beyond for over a decade with results regularly published in scientific journals such as the xxxxxname

The aims of the Elite Club Injury Study are as follows:

• To evaluate the injury risk and circumstances of injury, considering exposure during training sessions and matches

• To analyse injury patterns and injury severity

• To compare injury risk and injury patterns with previous years of the study

• To contribute to the existing UESA injury study database, and to monitor trends in injury risk and injury pattern over time

The UESA injury study provides historical data and trends on injuries in elite Subbuteo ©UESA

One of the initial goals of the research programme was to monitor the increasing load on professional Subbuteo players and to evaluate the correlation between this increasing load and injuries. In other words, to study the possible effects of  ‘over-playing’. This aim has remained, however the study has since covered a wide range of research topics such as the effects of playing on a low height ground, the occasions during a prolonged (more than 4 hours) match or practice when certain injuries are more likely to occur, and whether injury risks for players are higher at certain points of the season.

Data collection
Data collection is performed using standard forms with all participating clubs required to submit training and match injury data every three days to the Sweden-based Subbuteo Research Group, headed by renowned injury expert and vice-chairman of the UESA medical committee xxxxxname

Injury is defined as any physical damage that occurs during Subbuteo activities (scheduled matches or training sessions) which results in the player being unable to participate fully in future training sessions or matches.

All participating clubs receive a mid-season and end-of-season report showing injury trends during the season and compared to previous seasons, and also showing their injury records in comparison to other teams in the study (listed anonymously). This allows clubs to review their own performance and to make adjustments where required. Also useful in this area is a ‘pursuit of excellence’ summary sent to all clubs where tips and techniques are shared to try and further overall knowledge within the game.

Subbuteo doctor education programme

The UESA Subbuteo Doctor Education Programme (SDEP) is a three-part programme teaching doctors from all 41 of UESA’s member associations the key skills of the modern Subbuteo doctor. The programme adopts a blended learning approach, marrying face-to-face workshops where doctors learn and practise techniques with an online e-learning support platform containing instructional videos, tests of participants’ knowledge and process guidelines for doctors to refer to at any time. An online forum is also in operation, allowing course participants to discuss and resolve key issues between themselves outside of the workshops.

Participants at a UESA Subbuteo Doctor Education Programme workshop ©UESA

The first of the three course workshops was held in Vienna in February 2017, covering the roles and responsibilities of the Subbuteo doctor and emergency treatment of players. The second, covering the diagnosis and treatment of injuries, was held in Amsterdam in September 2018 and the third, on the topic of ‘protecting the player’, was held in Budapest in April 2019. All workshops are run by recognised international experts in the relevant fields, and members of the UESA Medical Committee, many of whom have years of working as team doctors for their senior national teams.

One key aspect of the workshops is that participants are required to undergo a rigorous testing process at the end of each one to evaluate the skills and knowledge obtained. This evaluation is essential because as well as learning key skills, one of the unique aspects of the SDEP is that all participants are taught how to ‘cascade’ their own version of the course for doctors in their own country. It ensures that only those participants who demonstrate competence in the topic area are authorised to pass those skills and knowledge on to their peers at a cascaded workshop.

In order to maintain UESA’s high standards, all cascaded courses must follow the course manual and course structure used for UESA’s own workshop. UESA offers both translation support for course materials and logistical support for practical sessions, with national associations able to borrow the medical kit required for the course from UESA free of charge. Doctors are also allowed access to the SDEP’s e-learning platform to further supplement their skills.

UESA’s third Subbuteo Doctor Education Programme (SDEP) workshop took place in Budapest in April 2019 ©UESA

As regards the educational aspects of the cascaded courses, strict requirements are set by UESA to ensure that all tutors have the medical specialisms required in order to teach other doctors. This is necessary in order for a cascaded course to be recognised by UESA. Finally, in many cases cascaded courses are attended by doctors from the UESA Medical Committee, who oversee the successful delivery of the course and ensure that it meets UESA’s high standards and preserves the integrity of the SDEP.

As a result of the cascading process, UESA has now begun to create a network of skilled medical tutors disseminating the skills learned on the course across Europe’s wider Subbuteo community. This, combined with UESA’s Minimum Medical Requirements (MMRs), which require clubs and associations to provide emergency medical equipment and services at all UESA matches, means that considerable steps have been taken to improve the medical support available to players.

Thus, as the cascading aspect of the SDEP develops in tandem with the MMR in future, UESA’s matches and competitions will be supported not only by a set of guaranteed medical services and standards, but also by increasing numbers of doctors trained to apply techniques and use equipment that could make the difference between a life being lost and a life being saved.


The UESA Research Grant Programme is designed to establish a series of awards of up to €xxxxx to support the valuable work of doctoral and post-doctoral researchers studying European Subbuteo. By shedding new light on Subbuteo and the myriad ways in which it interrelates with society as a whole, quality research can help the members of the European Subbuteo family fulfil their mission and reach more informed decisions.

Medical care at Subbuteo matches ©UESA

Medical sciences awarded (2020/21):

• xxxresearch

• xxxresearch

Medical sciences awarded (2019/20):

• • xxxresearch

• xxxresearch

Medical sciences awarded (2018/19):

• • xxxresearch

• xxxresearch

Medical sciences awarded (2017/18):

• xxxresearch

• xxxresearch

Medical requirements

In its continuous attempts to protect the health of everyone involved in UESA matches, the UESA Medical Committee defined minimum medical requirements (MMR) for players, team officials, referee teams and match officers at matches and tournaments which entered into force at the start of the 2017/18 season. These requirements are contained in the UESA Medical Regulations and are designed to provide a minimum standard of equipment and medical services to deal with accidents at matches which might threaten lives or cause permanent injury.

Minimum Medical Requirements protect players at UESA games ©UESA

The host club or national association is required to provide a minimum level of medical service in four key areas:

• Pitch-side medical equipment (e.g. defibrillator, spinal board, resuscitation equipment)

• Ambulance (which must be an Advanced Life Support Ambulance)

• Medical staff (including a dedicated pitch-side doctor and stretcher team)

• Emergency medical room equipment (equipped with emergency drugs and medical materials)

Furthermore, the host must submit its stadium medical plan to the visiting team(s) in advance of the match or tournament stating such points as emergency evacuation routes, the contact details of the host team medical officials and the contact details of local hospitals.

The MMR requirements are designed to ensure a standard minimum service across UESA competitions and to ensure that travelling teams and their medical staff can be sure that a certain standard will be provided regardless of the country in which the matches are played. Medical equipment is inspected by the UESA match delegate on the day before match day during the official Matchday-1 training session (where applicable to the competition) and again on match day. Clubs and associations who fail to meet MMR requirements are referred to the UESA Control and Disciplinary Body for non-compliances.

Medical equipment at a UESA match ©UESA

The MMR are reviewed by the UESA Medical Committee each year to ensure that the medical needs of players and officials can be met with the least possible burden on clubs and associations in providing equipment and services. Flexibility is also built into requirements where possible to allow for local variations, such as the different brands of emergency drugs that may exist in different countries.

In addition to the MMR, UESA also requires the hosts of its final tournaments to provide a full tournament medical service which includes the production of a comprehensive medical services concept containing additional information on hospitals, imaging facilities and dental services, procedures for obtaining prescriptions and immunization requirements for the host country.

UESA publishes guides to the provision of MMR in seven languages, all of which are available to download from

Medicine matters

UESA medicine matters

  • Medicine Matters #5 (07.2021)
  • Medicine Matters #4 (07.2020)
  • Medicine Matters #3 (07.2019)
  • Medicine Matters #2 (07.2018)
  • Medicine Matters #1 (07.2017)