Evolution the theme of UEFA Medical Symposium

The sixth UEFA Medical Symposium began in Madrid on Wednesday with evolution the key theme to three days of presentations and discussions with some of Europe's top experts.

Evolution is the main theme of the sixth UEFA Medical Symposium in Madrid, an event bringing together medical experts from UEFA's 54 member associations as well as some of Europe's top clubs.

In his opening address, UEFA Medical Committee chairman Dr Michel D'Hooghe stated that the symposium, which has been held every four years since 2002, "celebrates the key role medicine plays in the success of our sport". Referring to the main theme of the symposium – organised in cooperation with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) – he touched upon the evolution of injury prevention treatment, the specific needs regarding the development of women's football, advances in the fight against doping, and the importance of the psychological approach to modern football.

RFEF president Ángel María Villar Llona and chief medical officer Dr Helena Herrero were among those to deliver opening speeches. The president welcomed the assembled guests, adding "for me, you are the best doctors and medical specialists that there are, and it is a privilege to have you with us.

"As a footballer myself for many years, I must say sports medicine has evolved tremendously," he continued. "At UEFA it has evolved because people within UEFA, led by President Michel Platini, have taken responsibility to make sure it evolved. As president of the RFEF, I have learned to take these issues very seriously. I realised there was a need to pay more attention to them to ensure there was evolution within the sport."

Mr Villar Llona also paid tribute to former Spain coach Luis Aragonés, who died last weekend, noting his awareness of the value of medicine within the game. "Luis Aragonés was extremely interested in the medical aspects of football. He was a coach who knew how important it was to have the experience of doctors in football and how important it was to getting results."

The head of UEFA's anti-doping and medical unit Marc Vouillamoz and UEFA anti-doping and medical manager Mike Earl offered an insight into the work of the medical unit at European football's governing body. This presentation gave a detailed look at UEFA's medical regulations, science and research programmes, the minimum medical requirements guidelines, the Football Doctor Education Programme and the research grant programme that UEFA runs to support football-related research projects.

Also highlighted was the UEFA Elite Club Injury Study, which was then expanded on, in greater depth, by the vice-chairman of the UEFA Medical Committee, Professor Jan Ekstrand, who has been in charge of the project since it started in 2001. He outlined some of the findings of the study, including evidence of the influence of injuries on a team's success on the pitch.

The first day closed with a session on UEFA's approach to anti-doping, led by UEFA anti-doping panel president Mogens Kreutzfeldt, medical and anti-doping project manager Caroline Thom and leading doping analyst Martial Saugy. Details were imparted on the history of UEFA's fight against doping, the importance of doping control officers and education sessions at UEFA youth final tournaments, and anti-doping laboratories and their effectiveness during UEFA EURO 2008 and UEFA EURO 2012.