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Footballers to trial health monitoring microchips

Top flight footballers could become the first to trial new health monitoring microchips with the International Football Association Board voting to trial the technology ahead of a potential rollout.

With the electronic microchips being considered for inclusion in the shirts of top flight footballers, if incorporated the chips would allow teams to monitor players and help ensure against medical problems such as the cardiac arrest suffered by Bolton’s Fabrice Muamba when playing against Tottenham last season.

With electronic communications between players and the team’s technical area currently banned in any form, the International Football Association Board, which makes the laws of football, voted yesterday on whether to trial the microchip monitoring system. Ruling that a trial shoud be carried out, the IFAB decision, which follows a proposal from the Scottish Football Association, will a consultation group constructed from medics, coaches, former players and IFAB technical sub-committee members.

“We are looking at whether there are medical benefits, such as whether it can warn of problems such as Fabrice Muamba suffered, which would make it a no brainer for this to come in,” the Chief Executive of the Scottish FA, Stewart Regan said prior to yesterday’s ruling.

“We are trying to consider whether or not things can make a positive difference in the game rather than just another example of technology being brought in.”

With the International Football Association Board made up of the Football Associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as FIFA, the four home nation FAs each received one vote in the annonymous ballot whilst FIFA received four.

A less invasive, more detailed version of publically available systems such as those offered by Nike, FitBit and Adidas, the new health monitoring microchips will allow teams to track the heart performance, body temperature and distance being covered of every player on the field.

Discussing how the system would work, Regan added: “There is a chip in the shirt at the back of the player’s neck and the data is fed back into a laptop.”

As well as offering added safety measures for players, it is expected that data collected could be used for offering fans added insight into player performances, with distances covered and speeds obtained displayed for TV viewers.

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