European football raises the beat for World Heart Day 2020

UEFA and its member associations help increase awareness of heart disease by highlighting what can be done to prevent it.

More than half of Europe’s 55 national football associations marked the 2020 edition of World Heart Day by raising awareness of the risks of heart disease – one of the underlying health conditions known to worsen the impact of COVID-19 infection.

On 29 September, associations published articles and social media posts encouraging fans to exercise more often and to eat a balanced diet, including at least five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Many also disseminated messages urging fans to stop smoking.

Healthy Stadia, UEFA’s football and social responsibility partner for health and well-being, distributed a bespoke toolkit that helped unite European football’s support behind the world’s largest cardiovascular disease prevention campaign.

Staged annually, World Heart Day 2020 carried special significance due to the efforts of public health ministries across Europe to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Scientific research has shown that anyone with a heart condition is considered at increased risk of more severe complications of COVID-19.

Football Association support

Wales: sideline smoking prohibited

The Football Association of Wales (FAW) and FAW Trust introduced a new policy prohibiting smoking on the sidelines of children and young people’s grassroots football games across Wales.

The decision is designed to help de-normalise smoking in the eyes of children and prevent them from taking up the habit in later life. The policy covers games and training sessions for 522 junior clubs, 3,159 teams and 42,232 players across Wales.

Portugal: educational video

The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF), which had previously held photoshoots featuring men’s and women’s national team players, produced a 12-minute segment on its in-house TV channel dedicated to World Heart Day and cardiovascular disease.

The FPF also adapted the regular ‘moments that thrill' feature on its social media channels, sharing pictures of world-class goals and crucial saves that make our hearts beat faster.

Luxembourg: setting an example

The Luxembourg Football Federation (FLF) promoted a series of videos encouraging supporters to eat a healthy, balanced diet and get physically active. By showing players training and dining ahead of key matches, the footage gave an insight into both what it takes to become an elite footballer and how small lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on our health.

UEFA is committed to providing tobacco-free stadium environments in major competitions and urges all fans to look after their hearts.