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The human risk at the heart of the beautiful game

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Helping footballers to protect what matters most

Because we provide over £150m in sports-related accident and health insurance policies each year, Lloyd’s knows a thing or two about football data. In fact, the market experts know enough to have correctly predicted the winners of the World Cup in 2014 and 2018. We also published our 2022 predictions, created by a forecasting model that’s backed by data and analysis from the Centre of Economics and Business Research and Sporting Intelligence.

But there’s also a human story behind that data; the effect of injury on real match fitness can be devastating, cutting a promising career short and leaving many wondering ‘where next?’

“It would have been much more difficult to launch the firm without my injury insurance. The insurance gave me the comfort to start what I wanted to start. It allowed me to pursue something that wouldn’t immediately bring financial rewards.”
Scott Barron, CEO, Refuel Performance Management

As an eight-year-old, former Millwall and Brentford defender Scott Barron slept with a football in his bed. “All I wanted to do was play football,” he recalls. “I played at lunchtime, school break time. When the older boys played down the local park, I played with them.”

At age 12, Scott’s dream of becoming a professional football began to be realised. Selected for his county after playing for his local youth team, Scott was spotted by a scout who recognised his talent and got him a trial with then first division club Ipswich Town. After six weeks, Ipswich put him under contract.

Two years later, Scott made his professional debut for Ipswich in an FA Cup fixture on his eighteenth birthday. For a young player this was the start of looking forward to an exciting and lucrative career, and like most other young players he never considered the possibility of injury cutting it short. A double hernia that kept him off the pitch for 13 months was followed in 2013 by what Scott describes as ‘an innocuous injury – something ripped in my hip area’.

That innocuous injury refused to heal, even after multiple treatments. No matter how hard he tried, Scott couldn’t regain his match fitness. Yet the financial demands of supporting his family and paying for a footballer’s lifestyle left him will little space to consider some kind of plan B.

In 2014, Scott had to announce his retirement from professional football. It was the first time he really appreciated the value of the injury insurance he had bought many years earlier. For Michael Sahl Hansen, however, director of Danish football players’ association Spillerforeningen (SPFO), that value has never been more apparent.

Michael represents the interests of around 1,500 professional footballers in Denmark, in both the men’s and women’s games. Where once the role of SPFO would have been primarily to negotiate salaries and commercial agreements on behalf of the players, over recent years the association has increasingly focused on the long-term health – both mental and physical – of players.

Michael Sahl Hansen, CEO, Spillerforeningen - The Danish Football Players' Association

Part of SPFO’s role is to educate young players about the need for insurance to protect them should they become injured or unable to play.  In Denmark, the government offers generous state workers insurance, which also covers professional footballers; so many players are even less used to considering the need for specialist insurances.  However, as Sahl Hansen emphasises, “If you are playing abroad, you do not have any insurance...  The players need a safety net, especially if they contract permanently to a foreign club.”

This precise issue was brought sharply into focus in 2021, when Danish player Christian Eriksen very publicly collapsed and almost died from a heart attack on the pitch while playing for Denmark against Finland. Thankfully he made a full recovery, but he also had comprehensive insurance in place, should he have needed long-term care.

“The accident with Christian made everyone aware that it can happen to me, helping players see just how careers can end out of the blue,” Michael says.

Michael’s duty of care also extends to the lower leagues and semi-professional players.  Here the critical issue is accident insurance, which the association promotes to this group to supplement their state workers compensation cover, which is capped. “Even the semi-professional players need to have some level of cover,” Michael explains.

Back in the UK, eight years after his retirement Scott Barron is today CEO of Refuel Performance Management, an agency representing 72 football players’ interests and enhancing their performance on the pitch. “It would have been much more difficult to launch the firm without my injury insurance,” he says. “The insurance gave me the comfort to start what I wanted to start. It allowed me to pursue something that wouldn’t immediately bring financial rewards.”

Romaine is sat at a table signing a contract, Scott is stood next to him with his hand on Romaine's shoulder. They are both smiling, looking happy

Scott Barron (right) with Romaine Sawyers (left) in his role as Head of Football at Refuel Performance Management

Scott’s story shows that football injury isn’t just about lost match days and compensation. It can also be about lost income and the loss of a life’s passionate purpose. Every successful footballer’s career starts with passion – that’s what fuels the game. But should their footballing dream come to an abrupt end, the right cover allows them to fill that gap, move on and find new meaning in life.