Football, Grassroots

Heart Health and Defibrillators in grassroots football.

Heart health has been a topical point of conversation in football in the past few years, due to the high-profile cases involving Fabrice Muamba in Bolton’s FA cup quarter- final with Tottenham in 2012 and more recently with Christian Eriksen this past summer in Denmark’s Euro 2020 match with Finland in Copenhagen, who both sadly suffered a cardiac arrest while playing. Thankfully, excellent medical staff were able to administer lifesaving CPR before the players were rushed to hospital. 

Cardiac arrest in football is not just reserved to the pros, with many cases happening at the grassroots level that often lead to death, due to staff not being trained in CPR or limited defibrillator access. 

A defibrillator (AED) is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest and is an important part in trying to save the life of someone in that situation. Research by the NHS suggests that administering defibrillation within three to five minutes of collapse can produce better survival rates – as high as 50-70%. 

At least 12 young people, between the ages of 12 to 35 years, die of undiagnosed cardiac conditions in the United Kingdom every week. Over 30,000 people of all ages suffer a cardiac arrest outside of hospital every year and less than one in ten survive. 

Grassroots clubs should be prepared if someone suffers a cardiac arrest on the pitch. This includes staff taking part in CPR and sudden cardiac arrest courses as well as having a defibrillator on site. 

AED’s (Automated External Devices) Can be acquired through the premier league defibrillator fund supported by the Football Foundation, the FA, and Sport England 

The Premier League Defibrillator Fund is open to: 

  • Football Foundation Funded facilities that are currently without an easily accessible Automated External Defibrillators (AED), available to the public 24 hours a day on site 
  • Affiliated grassroots clubs who own or operate their own facilities and are currently without an easily accessible Automated External Defibrillators (AED) on site 
  • Clubs that play at Steps 5 and 6 of the FA National League System, currently without an easily accessible Automated External Defibrillator (AED) at the ground at which they play 
  • Clubs that play at Tiers 3 and 4 of the FA Women’s Football Pyramid, currently without an easily accessible Automated External Defibrillators (AED) at the ground at which they play* 

*An easily accessible AED is defined as an AED which can be reached and returned from within 200m of the pitch to assist a person suffering a sudden cardiac arrest. 


Application for the premier league defibrillator fund can be found here: Premier League Defibrillator Fund - Eligibility - The Football Foundation ( 

Alternatively, if your club is not eligible through the football foundation, defibrillators can be bought via the British Heart Foundation: Buy Defibrillators and Accessories - British Heart Foundation ( 

UK Coaching also offer a free Sudden Cardiac Arrest Digital Toolkit which can be accessed here: UK Coaching - Sign up to our free Sudden Cardiac Arrest Toolkit