Background: After restarting football training and competitions during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, there was a necessity to increase following hygiene protocol and implement restrictions like the prohibition of entering spectators to stadiums and detection of positive disease cases especially subclinical infected players.
Periodic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test use to screen individuals for interruption the chain of transmission and maintain the health of athletes and other involved people.
The goal of our research is to know the prevalence of COVID-19 among professional football players and determine whether regular PCR testing and symptoms recording are sufficient as a screening tools in football.
Study design: a cross sectional retrospective study
Methods: This study was performed on 784 players of Iran's Premier and second division leagues from March to November 2020. Participants' symptoms and all PCR tests were recorded.
Results: Our results showed that 107 cases (13.6%) had a positive PCR test, including 52 Premier League players (10.4%) and 55 second-division League players (19.3%). Among those who had positive PCR tests, 41.1% were symptom-free and among those that tested negative, 17.5% had at least one symptom.
The most reported symptom among symptomatic participants was myalgia (7%) and having at least one symptom in 8 months recently, had a statistically significant relationship with PCR test (OR =6.77, 95% CI= 4.32 to 10.59, P-value <.001).
Conclusion: Due to the high level of asymptomatic patients, for increasing diagnostic accuracy, we recommend using a periodic PCR test with serologic tests for diagnosis COVID-19 in football players.