Headway Welcomes US Football Heading Case

Charity Welcomes Attention Raised By California Lawsuit


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Headway has said it welcomes the continued attention being paid to the issue of concussion in football, after the issuing of a lawsuit in California last month.

A group of mothers are taking US football authorities and world governing body Fifa to court over concerns about the frequency with which youngsters are allowed to head a ball. The case cites concerns that many concussion injuries occur when players clash as they compete for the ball in the air.

Speaking about the attention the case has brought, Headway chief executive Peter McCabe said: "There is significant momentum at present behind moves to raise awareness of concussion in football, and this has to be welcomed."

However, he added, a "common sense" approach should be taken to the issue that avoids deterring people from playing the sport.

Mr McCabe continued: "The risk of repeatedly heading footballs is still largely unknown. Only a handful of small-scale studies have looked into this and it is far too early to be drawing meaningful conclusions about the impact modern, lightweight footballs can have."

Headway wants to see more research into the issue and in recent weeks the Football Association has agreed to do more to look into the subject, prompted by relatives of the late England forward Jeff Astle. Famous for his many headed goals, the player died at the age of 59 from a degenerative brain condition more commonly associated with boxers.

Mr McCabe's mention of the question of what impact modern balls may have could be of particular significance, as Astle and his contemporaries played with much heavier leather balls, which became particularly bulky on wet days, when they would soak up water.

He added that what is also needed in the meantime is a change in attitudes towards head injuries on the field, which puts the safety of players above the notion that an individual is being brave by carrying on when they have taken a serious blow on the head.

Expert Opinion
This is yet another example of the growing concerns about head injuries within sport and the debate around concussion and head injuries is extremely welcome. While much of the spotlight has been on obvious head injuries and new rules being implemented by the governing bodies of many popular sports, this court case highlights the potential dangers to young people in respect to frequent heading of a ball.

“Of course, concerns over these issues must be raised, but a balanced approach is vital to ensure people continue to benefit for participating in sports at all levels. Our work on behalf of people who have suffered serious head injuries means we have seen the impact these incidents can have on victims in both the short and long-term. Hopefully the proposals outlined by this group of concerned parents will ensure the issue of head injuries remains in the spotlight and add to the debate about what the best approach should be to protect young people involved in sport.

“Serious brain injuries can be life-changing for victims and it is vital anyone suffering this type of injury are given the best possible care and support and that their long-term wellbeing is the top priority."
Stephen Nye, Partner

© 2017 Irwin Mitchell LLP is Authorised & Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Our Regulatory Information.