THERE are growing fears within English football that a ‘snus’ addiction among players is leading to a rise in injuries.
Snus is a smokeless tobacco product hailing from Scandinavia, which has become rife in the game in the past decade.Fears are rising over a growing addiction to ‘snus’ in the English game[/caption] Snus is a tobacco product that comes in a pouch and is placed on the gum behind the top lip[/caption]
It comes in the form of a little “teabag” pouch that most users put under their top lip to receive a rapid, high-strength nicotine hit.
Despite its sale being banned in the UK and the EU (except Sweden) since 1992, it is easy to get hold of through the internet.
Neither possession nor consumption is illegal here, nor is its use banned within football.
The lower leagues are where snus — pronounced snoose — is particularly prevalent.
What worries bosses is snus addiction having a negative impact on performance and even leading to injury.
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Some clubs are trying to stop their squads using it, while others dish out fines.
One League Two manager said 13 members of his squad had a snus problem and called an amnesty so they could receive help.
Despite snus being a stimulant, many players feel it calms them and use it before or even during matches. It can also be an appetite suppressant.
Yet with nicotine so highly addictive, some players are taking so much of it that it affects their sleep — and the lack of rest risks injury.
A League One boss told SunSport: “It’s the devil of football. It’s pretty much part of the footballer’s starter pack — three haircuts a week, a washbag and a pack of snus.
“We’ve got a real problem with it in our club. It’s rife throughout the senior team and youngsters.
We’ve got a real problem with it
“When you’re suppressing the appetite, you’re not feeding your muscles correctly. Particularly in recovery.
“I think some use it because they get anxious before games and it acts as a bit of a calmer. But you’re then going into games not at the peak state in terms of performance.
“Some are having to play and train with these (pouches) in, just to get by.
“Last year muscle injuries were up and generally that was put down to Covid and the games being on average every 3.2 days.
“But I believe probably half were down to snus. I don’t think it’s just your muscles, I think it’s your ligaments, your tendons. It’s just putting poison into your body.”
That boss has been aggressive with his players regarding the substance, even refusing to offer a contract to one due to his abuse.
It’s just putting poison in your body
He also had a player who is thought to have got gum cancer from snus, though that player is now off it and still playing.
But the manager in question feels he is fighting a losing battle given just how prevalent it is inside his club — as it appears to be elsewhere too.
He is calling for more medical research to be done into the possible links between excessive use of snus and muscle injuries.
A well-travelled League One ace told SunSport: “I know one player who loves it. He’ll go through a pot of 20 a day, easily.
“He’ll have one before he’s even brushed his teeth. Then two on the way to training. Two straight after training. Two after lunch. Two when he gets home. This is how bad it is.
“I’ve also seen people re-use one that has been in other people’s mouths because they’re like, ‘I haven’t got any, let me have one’.
Someone opens a pot and they are like zombies
“Now it’s everywhere. I know fewer people in football who don’t do it than those that do.
“I know two whose partners banned them from taking it, so the only place they do it is at football.
“I know some players who are like, ‘I need to stop, I’m addicted’. And then someone opens a pot and they are like zombies.”
Addiction therapist Andy MacArthur claims to have helped 15 footballers get off snus, including one whose addiction was so bad he was waking in the night to take a pouch.
His career nosedived, leading to a breakdown that saw his wife reach out to MacArthur for help.
The counsellor said: “The main problem isn’t that players are taking one pouch. Some are using three at a time and they think it’s good for their performance. When you try to stop, that’s when the trouble starts.
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“The lack of sleep is how it tortures people. You will not get deep sleep because you’re buzzing.
“That will start impairing your nervous system and you’ll find injuries are very hard to heal.
“Withdrawal is gut-wrenching so you’ll take more. It’s a vicious circle.”
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