Elite footballers’ “abuse” of legal painkillers risks their health and could “potentially” have life-threatening implications, says Fifa’s former chief medical officer.
About half of players competing at the past three World Cups routinely took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, claims Jiri Dvorak.
He says it is still an “alarming trend” among players, including teenagers.
“It has become a cultural issue, part of the game,” said Professor Dvorak.
“It is absolutely wrong,” added the Czech, who left Fifa in November after 22 years.
“For me it’s clearly abuse of the drugs – that’s why we use the word alarming.”
However, the Professional Footballers’ Association – the players’ union in England – said misuse of painkillers was “not a major issue” among its members.
BBC pundit and former England defender Danny Mills says painkillers in football have always been widespread – “and always will be”.