Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Tertiary hematologist Jeff Platt specialises in blood disorders
It sounds like a one-man job, but it is actually part of an ever-growing trend. The “bone marrow transplant” could well lead to the elimination of diseases we could not possibly imagine.
But it also faces huge challenges and questions of ethics, says expert Jeff Platt.
To get a glimpse of the history of the role in football, here’s three links that could make you wonder, “does that sound right?”
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Blackpool’s Emmanuel Adebayor, right, says he was offered £6m to undergo a procedure
Who needs a football team?
So why does there still need a football team after 90 years of the game?
Platt has a theory: “There are several reasons.
“One of them is footballers have important roles in football. They entertain people and educate people and I think it’s very important that they have clubs.
“Football develops discipline, fitness and mental toughness – so the people who go to the club are likely to become good citizens and good workers.”
People don’t really join football clubs – they might join their school teams. And Platt, who has been raising the public profile of the bone marrow transplant over 20 years, believes the problem is that football teams have too much power over people.
We all hear about life bans imposed by football associations for underhand behaviour, but are such punishments in fact the only punishments teams suffer?
PLATT: “In the States a team might get a one-year ban for one thing they have done – so maybe that’s why the US is one of the most compassionate countries in the world when it comes to certain sorts of diseases.
“In countries like the UK they might consider whether you can do that and whether it is better to have a bar on that blood-disease area – and that’s where you would get the number of people with possible cardiotocography, or blood tests, that your team might have received so that they know who might get what blood disease, just like that.
“There are a number of sports where only three or four members of a team might have that disease, or one or two in a team.
“But those would be two to three times fewer people being exposed to those diseases in a team, but that is just a fraction of the total population – which would be many millions of people – which you could have fewer cases and they might not be transmitted as easily.”
It could even cure diseases we could not even imagine.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Players used to not spend as much time training before the big games
Everyone watches football for the drama of the big events – but Platt believes sometimes the drama can overshadow the bigger picture.
PLATT: “The biggest problem is the lack of training week in, week out, especially in some leagues.
“There are two ways you can solve that problem – you can have a series of incentives to get players to play all the time – and then if you are doing that the bigger things go out of the way.
“Or they can simply have a policy to send them out all the time – like for example: if you don’t get 2m in a year, you can’t be a starter for the first week of the season. And if they don’t get a certain number, then they can’t be registered as a first choice.
“They do it all year round.
“There are a lot of things going on during the year which can damage people, sometimes to a very serious extent – it’s only when we lose these things that we realise that. It’s only then that we take the time to deal with it.”
Now you think that sounds right.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption African players wanted blood tests, statuses and training plans
Who needs to monitor the diversity of the population?
Platt believes all levels of government, health authorities and health organisations should be monitoring the increased number of people falling victim to blood conditions such as leukaemia, haemophilia and lymphoma.
PLATT: “There is a population that receives death-like blood tests – and the question is why is that?
“In 1998 I sent a letter to the top cancer surgeon at Imperial College in London about my case and I pointed out that in 1998 there was an approximate human male population of 71,000. And now we are approaching a population of 135,000 and at that time there was no funding available for those tests. Now we have an idea of the screen results that people with those conditions would have.
“The second issue is that players have quite high standards of being fit and training – it was said that we had almost no serious injuries