'Ban' on head injury footballers: Medics want players who suffer concussion to be assessed by an independent doctor before being allow back on the pitch

  • Proposal has been backed by the world players' union FIFPro
  • Comes after Alvaro Pereira was allowed to continue playing despite appearing to be concussed
  • Head injuries have been linked to dementia and other problems later in life

By Daily Mail Reporter


Football players who suffer concussion should only be allowed back on the pitch after being examined by an independent doctor, say medics.

The proposal backs the world players’ union FIFPro, which criticised FIFA over its handling of head injuries during the World Cup and in particular Uruguayan defender Álvaro Pereira overruling his team doctors’ advice to be substituted.

In an editorial published in The Lancet Neurology, medics say that FIFA needs to get its house in order before the next World Cup: ‘Changes are clearly needed to protect athletes.’

Alvaro Pereira lies on the ground after taking a blow to the head during Uruguay's game with England during the World Cup

Alvaro Pereira lies on the ground after taking a blow to the head during Uruguay's game with England during the World Cup

The doctors say players must be taken off if there is any suspicion of head injury as it has been linked to dementia and other problems in later life.

Pereira continued playing in the game which saw his Uruguay side beat England “'after a blow to the head that left him in an apparent state of concussion.'

As a result FIFPro called on FIFA to 'conduct a thorough investigation into its own competition concussion protocol which failed to protect' the Uruguayan.

It called for 'a review of the laws of the game so that a player with a suspected concussion can be temporarily replaced whilst being diagnosed.'

It stressed: 'The World Cup must set the standard for player health and safety to educate the international football community.

Doctors say players must be taken off the pitch if there is any suspicion of head injury

Doctors say players must be taken off the pitch if there is any suspicion of head injury

'Medical evidence shows that a person faces the risk of very serious brain injury, or worse, if he or she suffers a severe head trauma from a concussive blow.

'Football is awash with incidents in which players suffer potentially concussive blows to the head and stay on the pitch. In Pereira’s case, he demanded to play on while overruling advice from Uruguay’s team physician for him to be immediately substituted.

'FIFPro understands that in the heat of the moment, faced by the pressures of such an important international stage, many players would react in this way, but there are times when the players also need protection from making any rash decisions.

'Furthermore, FIFPro states any sideline concussion assessment must not be conducted solely by a national team physician.'

England player Raheem Sterling ran into Pereira knocking the defender in the face with his knee

England player Raheem Sterling ran into Pereira knocking the defender in the face with his knee

It said if there is any suspicion of injury the only safe thing would be to take players off as a range of symptoms can last for weeks or months afterwards and has been linked to dementia in later life.

It said: 'Cerebral concussion is the most common form of sports-related traumatic brain injury (TBI) and there is growing recognition of the lasting effects of mild TBI.

'A range of symptoms such as headache and dizziness can continue for weeks or even months after a concussion; the causes of post-concussion syndrome are unclear and do not seem to correlate with the severity of injury.'

Medics said the long-term consequences of repeated mild TBI have been recognised for some time in the boxing world where symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), including dementia, appears years or decades after brain trauma.

Despite the collision, Pereira refused to leave the field and carried on playing for the rest of the match

Despite the collision, Pereira refused to leave the field and carried on playing for the rest of the match

The editorial called for better education to prevent, recognise and respond to the effects of mild head injuries in sport while more research into the short and long-term effects of mild TBI was needed.

It added: 'Concussion signs and symptoms are not necessarily sensitive indicators of brain injury and we know that these symptoms can pass quickly even when neurological damage remains.

'Advanced neuroimaging and biomarkers are needed to diagnose and monitor CTE - characterised by progressive tauopathy and neurodegeneration - during life.

'Gives us hope that when teams gather in four year’s time for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, football and other sports will feel a safer place for athletes of all ages.'


The comments below have not been moderated.

Allow a special substitution specifically for concussions that can only be used in cases of concussions.

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This World Cup has shown a high number of head clashes and each time play resumes at a disadvantage to the team who's player is off the field. Last night a player went off, had treatment and was waiting for 5 minutes to get back on. If a player goes off there should be a temporary substitution until the injured player.

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Concussion is a very serious matter . The brain is shaken in the skull and its chemistry is temporarily disturbed . I would reccommend concussion therapy centres where patients are cared for for at least 3 months with absolutley no exersion or mental work such as TV or computors allowed . Its like trying to paint in the rain: it will never set properly . Treat a traumatic brain injury just like a broken ankle : DONT WALK ON IT !! Or you will limp for the rest of your life . The hard part about recovering from concussion is the boredom . Therapy centres could offer palliative , specialist care . Look after your brain , it is after all WHO YOU ARE .

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I agree. If only I had rested rather than rushed back to work. You only have one brain, and allowing it to heal itself after damage is far more important than any game. Living with memory loss, impaired balance and loosing your driving license and job is a very high price to pay.

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How ridiculous is this! Risk assessment would prove that fatal injury is very rare, carry on at this rate and boxers will have to be assessed following each punch, rugby would be banned and what about being struck by a cricket ball?

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Players who also deliberately kick, bite or generally display violent behaviour to other players should also have to face a mental evaluation before being allowed back on the pitch.

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Explains SO MUCH

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Ive just read an article on the dm that stated that dementia can be reduced by taking regular walks.. Are these people just guessing at these ridiculous causes/cures or what?

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I think they should wear full face crash helmets

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Another player was bleeding badly from a head wound and carried on playing, they should be sent off automatically for their own good.

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Hospitals take seriously any loss of consciousness, knowing it can have very serious consequences. Watching this guy unconscious on the pitch, then being allowed to carry on was really worrying and I was surprised little or no discussion resulted. I've seen 2 nasty head injuries at this world cup, that would be concerning to anyone in the medical field.

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