Gaming addiction in football stars on the rise since COVID-19 lockdown: Report

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a massive rise in gaming addiction among footballers, a recent report has revealed. The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown meant that players were confined in their homes and gaming represented an appealing respite to players. While matches and leagues have resumed, footballers on Twitch are having a hard time letting go of their addiction.

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Footballers are seeking treatment as gaming addiction rises during lockdown 

According to a report by the Daily Mail, the lockdown has seen a massive rise in gaming addiction amongst footballers. The report stated that Steve Pope, one of the country’s top addiction counsellors, is currently helping 15 professional and 30 semi-professional footballers with their addiction, which is three times the number of his usual clientele. The report further states that the PFA and Sporting Chance have also been contacted by the clubs as the addiction keeps gripping more and more players. Pope stated that the fascination towards gaming was spiralling out of control.

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PFA have a 24-hour helpline for players and have been asked by clubs to speak about gaming habits. He said that gaming became more appealing after the lockdown started and footballers had nothing to do in their past time. Pope added that footballers have obsessive personalities and they have more time on their hands than anybody to play.

The addiction expert further stated that gaming addiction is mentally destructive and it is a silent epidemic that never gets the attention it deserves. Steve Pope said that irrespective of the addiction, there needs to be a large support network to cover things.

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Pope likened gaming addiction to alcohol addiction, stating that taking the controller off a 20-year-old is like denying an alcoholic the last dregs of a bottle of whisky. Gaming disorder has been listed as a mental health condition by the World Health Organisation since 2018 and the National Health Service (NHS) had launched the first National Centre for Gaming Disorders to treat patients aged between 13 and 25 last year.

Last year, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said that he saw the issue as ‘the same as alcoholism or drug addiction’ and revealed that he turned off WiFi in the team hotels to protect his players.

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Former Man City player sheds light on how gaming addiction is seen in society

Former Man City player Jeff Whitley who is PFA’s Player Welfare Executive told Sportsmail that people do not see gaming addiction on the same lines as alcohol or drug addiction.

Whitley said that the clubs need to be aware of players gaming habits, as the addiction could lead to them neglecting other aspects of their life. Sporting Chance, a mental health charity set up by former England captain Tony Adams, have also taken calls on gaming and run an increasing number of education sessions on the subject. Alex Mills, head of education said that players will talk openly about staying up gaming a bit late quite frequently and the frequency has increased in recent times suggesting problematic behaviour. 

(Image Courtesy: Indi Gaming Instagram)

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