Football lawmakers urged to introduce temporary concussion substitutions | Soccer News

An open letter calling for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutions has been written to the International Football Association Board (IFAB) as key figures have insisted current protocols are not working.

IFAB members will gather in Doha on Monday for its 136th annual general meeting and concussion surrogates will be among a number of topics on the agenda.

In December 2020, the IFAB invited competitions to take part in a trial of permanent concussion substitutions, which the Premier League agreed to months later.

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Former England goalkeeper David James suffered concussions during his playing career – he told The Football Show that medical interventions needed to go further in order to protect players’ wellbeing.

While this was seen as a step forward in the sport’s fight against neurogenerative diseases, the option of temporarily replacing players while they undergo head injury assessments is still not available.

Key figures from the Professional Footballers’ Association, the Jeff Astle Foundation, the Concussion Legacy Foundation and the Headway Brain Injury Association have now signed an open letter urging the IFAB to go further.

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Luke Griggs, deputy chief executive of brain injury charity Headway, says further changes are still needed when it comes to on-field concussion management

Dawn Astle, daughter of former England international Jeff, who died in 2002 of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and co-founder of the Jeff Astle Foundation, said: “Put simply, the current IFAB rules do not work and the players are put in danger.

“This is completely unacceptable. Too often we see players assessed for a complex brain injury on the field of play, with the noise and intensity of a football stadium, and continue the game only for them to be replaced later. This demonstrates that current guidelines do not prioritize player safety. Change is long overdue.”

Jeff Astle
Jeff Astle’s death attributed to occupational disease linked to repeated heading of a bullet

PFA chief executive Maheta Molango added: “When determining the laws of the game, the safety and well-being of the players must be the top priority. The medical teams are given an impossible task.

“As the spokesperson for professional players in England, we have made it clear that we want to see the immediate introduction of temporary concussion substitutes.”

Concussion Legacy Foundation UK executive director Dr Adam White said: “We need to do everything we can to help healthcare professionals make the best decisions for players’ safety, which means letting them the time and space to conduct robust clinical assessments away from the playing field.

“Temporary concussion substitutions are the only way that can happen.”

Chris Suton
Former Norwich striker Chris Sutton was one of many former professionals to sign the open letter

Former Norwich and Blackburn striker Chris Sutton, whose father Mike suffered from dementia before his death in 2020, was one of many former professionals to sign the open letter.

Family members of Nobby Stiles, Dave Watson, Peter Bonetti, Frank Worthington and Rod Taylor also lent their support.

Progression: the change should have happened years ago

Headway chief executive Peter McCabe said: “It is essential that we better protect footballers from the dangers of continuing to play after sustaining a concussion – especially those playing at grassroots level.

“The introduction of temporary concussion substitutes should have happened years ago and any further delay is simply unacceptable.”

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Former West Brom striker Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu suffered a concussion during his playing days and told The Football Show what needs to be done to protect players.

A number of medical professionals, including Dr. Willie Stewart, also signed the letter.

It was Dr Stewart’s FIELD study published in 2019 which found that footballers were three and a half times more likely to die from NDD than a member of the general population of the same age.

“Allowing temporary concussion substitution in football would allow medical professionals to conduct more comprehensive assessments and send an important signal to everyone in the game to treat head injuries with due care,” reads -on in the opening letter bearing more than 100 signatures.

“We call on the IFAB to immediately implement temporary concussion substitutions in the Laws of the Game for association football for the leagues, whereby appropriate medical and health coverage and monitoring enables concussion assessments to be administered. .”

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