Team contact sports in times of the COVID-19 pandemic- a scientific concept for the Austrian football league


Background Since the beginning of the COVID -19 pandemic, many contact sport teams are facing major challenges to safely continue training and competition. Objective We present the design and implementation of a structured monitoring concept for the Austrian national football league Methods 146 professional players from five clubs of the professional Austrian football league were monitored for a period of 12 weeks. Subjective health parameters, PCR- test results and data obtained from a geo-tracking app were collected. Simulations modelling the consequences of a COVID-19 case with increasing reproduction number were computed. Results No COVID-19 infection occurred during the observation period in the players. Infections in the nearer surroundings lead to increased perceived risk of infection. Geo tracking was particularly hindered due to technical problems and reluctance of users. Simulation models suggested a hypothetical shut-down of all training and competition activities. Conclusions A structured monitoring concept can help to continue contact sports safely in times of a pandemic. Cooperation of all involved is essential. Trial registration ID: DRKS00022166 15/6/2020 Key Points- The results of this study can inform the development of future prevention and monitoring strategies in professional football and beyond, potentially serving as a blueprint for the safe continuation of sports and physical activity, across a broad range of settings, during and following a pandemic such as COVID-19.- Health parameters should be digitally recorded and closely monitored to enable quick response in case of a COVID-19 infection.