Football fans all over the world are getting excited as the FIFA World Cup draws nearer to the first whistle of the opening match.
Beginning on Sunday 20 November, the World Cup will see the best national teams on the planet take to the pitch to lift football’s ultimate prize.
While most fans will enjoy the tournament in the spirit of what Pele called ‘the beautiful game’, a significant minority sadly will not. Major football tournaments often see a rise in emergency admissions to hospitals due to:
- Drunken slips and falls
- Increased drink driving
- Violence in pubs
The common denominator is alcohol.
A further alcohol-related concern is that the four-week tournament will extend the seasonal drinking period for many people. This could lead to potential long-term injury caused by drinking too much.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is appealing to all fans to enjoy the World Cup in safety and to avoid the pitfalls caused by drinking too much.
As part of this appeal, the Trust has created a series of social media posts based on classic ‘football’ stickers to get its message out to the public: Support your local NHS with the same passion as you support your football team.
The football cards feature Trust staff from around the world. No matter which football team they support, they are all ‘Team NHS’.
Trust consultant in public health Dr. Esther Mireku is backing the appeal and features in one of the posts. She is originally from Ghana, who are playing in the tournament.
Esther said: “The football sticker social media posts are a little bit of fun, but the message is very serious.
“During the winter period, our colleagues in the emergency and urgent care centres always see an increase in accidents caused by slips and falls. The festive drinking period is never consequence free.
“We are genuinely concerned that the four-week World Cup will make this situation even more difficult to manage if more people come to A&E with alcohol-related injuries while watching the matches in the pub.”
Esther and her colleagues are also concerned about the potential longer-term impacts of excessive drinking. She commented: “The World Cup essentially extends the Christmas and new year party season by another four weeks. That could see a lot of extra drinking during that time.
“The recommended weekly intake of alcohol is 14 units for men and women, about six pints of beer. If people are regularly going over that, they could be storing up real problems for the future.
“No one wants to spoil anyone’s fun and there are many football fans working in our hospitals who are excited for the tournament. We are just asking people to consider how much they are drinking and not to compromise their health due to excess drinking.”
Local organisations join the World Cup campaign
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has also joined the campaign. Michael Souter, senior general manager for emergency medicine at the Trust said: “We all want to see our countries do well in the World Cup. But it’s important that we stay safe and support our teams responsibly. That’s why we’re asking you to help us to help you by keeping our emergency departments free for those who really need it.”
The campaign is also being backed by Cleveland Police. Roads Policing Inspector, Jamie Bell, said: “We want everyone to enjoy the tournament. However, we also want to keep people safe and are reminding everyone of the dangers of getting behind the wheel whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. We don’t want to see anyone ending up in hospital seriously injured or worse as a result of people not taking responsibility and risking their lives.
“People also need to remember that, if they do consume alcohol or drugs, both can remain within the system for extended periods of time. It might not be safe to drive the next morning, so ensure that you arrange a lift, taxi or alternative arrangements rather than driving whilst still over the limit.”
Our World Cup campaign will take place throughout the tournament on the Trust social media feeds: