Football Fans Show Support For Justice For Jeff Campaign

FA Under Pressure To Publish Research Linking Football And Brain Injuries


Football fans have shown their support for a campaign aimed at encouraging the Football Association (FA) to publish potentially life-saving research that links heading a football with long-term brain conditions.

West Bromwich Albion supporters staged a protest during their away game at Hull City on Saturday afternoon (March 22nd).

The Justice For Jeff Campaign is being led by the family of former England international Jeff Astle, who died at the age of 59 in 2002.

A coroner ruled that years of heading a heavy leather football had caused a significant amount of damage to his brain and the FA promised at the time that extensive research would be conducted in order to highlight the potential dangers facing footballers.

However, this information is yet to surface, which has prompted Astle's family to take action.

The West Brom fans unfurled a banner that read "Justice For Jeff!" and sang his name throughout the ninth minute - a symbolic reference to the striker's shirt number during his Albion career.

Astle was renowned for his bravery when heading a football and this clearly took its toll during his 15 years in the professional game.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Gordon Taylor - chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association - insisted the research is "still very much on the agenda".

"There were some difficulties in keeping track of the individuals. But it was completed although it hasn't been published," he was quoted as saying.

Last month, the New York Times reported that US footballer Patrick Grange died at the age of 29 and his condition was linked to heading a ball.
Research conducted by experts at Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System showed that chronic traumatic encephalopathy could be caused by repeatedly heading a football.

These findings, coupled with the ongoing Justice For Jeff campaign, could lead to significant changes to the way young footballers are taught to play the game in the future, with greater emphasis placed on safe heading techniques.

Expert Opinion
The research being done by Justice For Jeff Campaign is really important in terms of identifying potential changes as to how footballers are taught to play and, most importantly, to ensure their safety comes first.

“Head injuries have to be treated very seriously, as they are often misunderstood and can result in not only physical problems but emotional and mental issues. They must be monitored strictly by professionals to ensure that the patient makes a full recovery.

“Making sportsmen and women who may be at some risk of such injuries – including football players – more aware of the symptoms and issues to bear in mind is a sensible idea which also promotes a general greater awareness of the consequences of head injuries in general.”
Stephen Nye, Partner