Death in community Australian football: A ten year national insurance claims report Academic Article uri icon


  • While deaths are thought to be rare in community Australian sport, there is no systematic reporting so the frequency and leading causes of death is unknown. The aim of this study was to describe the frequency and cause of deaths associated with community-level Australian Football (AF), based on insurance-claims records. Retrospective review of prospectively collected insurance-claims for death in relation to community-level AF activities Australia-wide from 2004 to 2013. Eligible participants were aged 15+ years, involved in an Australian football club as players, coaches, umpires or supporting roles. Details were extracted for: year of death, level of play, age, sex, anatomical location of injury, and a descriptive narrative of the event. Descriptive data are presented for frequency of cases by subgroups. From 26,749 insurance-claims relating to AF, 31 cases were in relation to a death. All fatalities were in males. The initial event occurred during on-field activities of players (football matches or training) in 16 cases. The remainder occurred to people outside of on-field football activity (n = 8), or non-players (n = 7). Road trauma (n = 8) and cardiac conditions (n = 7) were the leading identifiable causes, with unconfirmed and other causes (including collapsed or not yet determined) comprising 16 cases. Although rare, fatalities do occur in community AF to both players and people in supporting roles, averaging 3 per year in this setting alone. A systematic, comprehensive approach to data collection is urgently required to better understand the risk and causes of death in participants of AF and other sports.

publication date

  • 2016