Fifa Under Fire As Injured World Cup Player Stays On Pitch

Fifa Criticised As Concussed Player Allowed To Play On After Head Clash

23.06.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Brain injury charity Headway has criticised football's governing body Fifa for its "poor concussion regulation" after Uruguayan defender Alvaro Pereira was allowed to return to the field of play after apparently being knocked unconscious in the World Cup match against England.

The player went down in a clash of heads with England winger Raheem Sterling and appeared to have been knocked out.

He was taken to the touchline and recovered consciousness, but then entered into a row with the team doctor before returning to the pitch.

Pereira was quoted afterwards as saying: "It was a moment of madness...I've apologised to the doctor because I know it's his job to look after the players."

The fact that Pereira was allowed to play on was criticised by Headway chief executive Peter McCabe.

He said: "This incident is another shocking example of a footballer being allowed to ignore medical advice and stay on the pitch following a blow to the head," arguing that when such incidents occur the player should be removed from the field "immediately" and given further treatment.

Mr McCabe hit out at the absence of a Fifa regulation giving team doctors the right to insist a player comes off, whether they want to or not, to prevent a situation in which an individual can return to the field of play at their own insistence, despite not being in a fit state to make such a judgement.

A similar incident occurred in the Premier League last year, in which Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was allowed to play on despite being knocked out when an opposition player's knee struck him in the head.

It is not just in football that such controversies have occurred, with Headway recently criticising Guy Noves, the coach of French rugby union side Toulouse, for persuading centre Florian Fitz to return to the field after taking a blow on the head that caused concussion and facial bleeding.
 
Mr McCabe said it was "shocking" that Fitz was allowed to return to the field after ten minutes of treatment on the sideline.

Expert Opinion
The way that head injuries are dealt with in sports such as football and rugby has been high on the agenda in recent years and rightly so as they can be very serious and have a devastating impact on people’s lives if not treated appropriately.

“The medical staff attending games and treating players are doing so because they are experts in their field and their advice should be treated with the utmost respect. Players should not be able to over-rule medical advice as they may not be thinking straight because of the adrenaline of the match as well as the head injury they have suffered.

“What is needed is definitive research and evidence which sets out clear guidelines in the rules of the game to protect players’ safety.”
Stephen Nye, Partner