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Football Accused Of Being Lax Over Concussion

Head Injury Experts Warn Sport Needs To Do More


Football is one sport where the authorities have not done enough to deal with the issue of concussion, a pair of leading brain injury experts have said.

Speaking at the International Rugby Board's World Rugby Conference in London, Dr Robert Cantu said the game's governing body Fifa is "light years behind" the International Rugby Board in dealing with concussion, the BBC reports.

His colleague Dr Willie Stewart said he was "depressed, disappointed and dismayed" by some of the recent incidents in football.

The pair, who were taking part in a panel discussion during the event, said the sport could improve its record due to the pressure being brought to bear by campaigners like the family of Jeff Astle, the former England footballer who died of brain injuries more commonly seen among boxers.

For now, however, the experts were left lamenting the situation in football, in contrast with the efforts rugby authorities have made to improve the management of concussion.

Dr Stewart, a neuropathologist based in Glasgow, said: "I don't see much progress happening in football.

"And it could learn a lot from how other sports have changed their protocols to better look after their players."

The incidents that have caused concern centre on cases where players have been allowed to return to the field of play despite suffering an initial concussion.

This included occurrences in the World Cup in Brazil where Uruguayan Alvaro Pereira was allowed to come back on in the match against England after a blow to the head, or the way Germany's Kristoph Kramer was allowed to stay on the pitch for several minutes in the final, despite being dazed in a collision early in the game.

A recent instance in England was that of Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois in the current season, who was allowed to play on after colliding with Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez.

The comments come despite the Premier League introducing new protocols this season, including a stipulation that any player with a head injury must leave the pitch, the club doctor having responsibility to decide whether a player is concussed and must come off, plus the introduction of a third doctor to support the medical staff of both teams.

Expert Opinion
There have been several high profile incidents in recent months concerning the handling of head injuries and concussion in football. Significant steps have been made in the sport, but it is important more is done to improve the quality of care offered to players, to ensure they are protected against the long-term impact head injuries can have.

“We hope that the continuing debate around the issue of concussion in professional sport and the impact it can have on individuals will continue to encourage governing bodies to improve the measures in place to protect players. It is vital the new protocols filter down to lower levels of the sport to protect individuals at all levels.”
Stephen Nye, Partner

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