Background: Following the resumption of football training and competitions during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it was necessary to tighten up the hygiene protocol and impose restrictions such as prohibiting spectators from entering stadiums and the detection of positive disease cases, particularly among sub clinically infected players. The purpose of our study was to find out how common COVID-19 is among professional football players and to see if regular PCR testing and symptom recording are adequate screening methods in football.
Study design: A cross-sectional retrospective study was used as the study design.
Method: Periodic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing are used to evaluate athletes and other involved people for breaks in the transmission chain and to preserve their health. From March to November 2020, 784 players from Iran's prime and second division leagues participated in this study. The symptoms of the participants, as well as the results of the PCR testing, were recorded.
Results: The results showed that 107 cases (13.6%) had positive PCR tests, with 52 Premier League players (10.4%) and 55 second-tier League players among them (19.3 percent). 41.1 percent of individuals who had positive PCR testing were symptom-free, while 17.5 percent of those who tested negative experienced at least one symptom. Myalgia was the most commonly reported symptom among symptomatic participants (7%).
Conclusion: Due to the large number of asymptomatic patients, we advocate combining a periodic PCR test with serologic tests for the diagnosis of COVID-19 in football players to improve diagnostic accuracy.