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Footballer with head injury wrongly allowed to continue playing

  • 22.11.2022
  • EmmaArnold
  • Personal-injury
  • Headway head injury concussion heading in football professional football concussion in sport World Cup

After sustaining a heavy blow to the head during England’s first match of the World Cup 2022, Iranian goalkeeper, Alireza Beiranvand was not immediately taken off the pitch.

Early on in the game, Beiranvand clashed heads with a teammate which left him looking very dazed with a bloodied nose. He was treated on the pitch by medics for what looked to be a concussion.

However, under FIFA's medical concussion protocol, it states that any signs or symptoms of concussion should lead to the immediate removal of the player for further, more in-depth testing, which did not take place.

After a few more minutes of trying to continue to play, Beiranvand fell to the floor and called for a substitute.

Co-commentator for the BBC during the match, former midfielder Jermaine Jenas, explained his frustration and disgust towards the decision to keep the injured goalkeeper on the pitch for so longer after sustaining the head injury. Jenas said during the match:

“He’s clearly not in a good place. I don’t see how this is right, I really don’t. It seems like he’s being forced to stay on, it’s ridiculous. It’s the responsibility of the medical team to make the call, make the decision. We’re at a major tournament in 2022, constantly talking about concussion in the game and the long-term affects with dementia and this happens. It’s out of order.”

FIFA’s concussion protocol states “due to the potential severe neurological consequences of a head injury, any suspicion of abnormal findings should result in the initiation of an appropriate examination and removal from the match or training session." In light of this updated procedure, teams are allowed to use a concussion substitute that would not count towards their usual five changes.

Luke Griggs, from Headway, called the decision “an utter disgrace.” He said:

“It was irrelevant that he came off a minute later, he shouldn’t have stayed on for a second, let alone a minute. He was clearly distressed and unfit to continue. This seems to be another case of the decision being made by the player and not medical staff. This was the first test of the FIFA World Cup concussion protocol and it was an abject failure.”

Gary Herbert, Partner in personal injury at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

“The awareness of concussion has increased greatly in recent years, and it is positive that commentators such as Jermaine Jenas are so aware of the risks and protocols.  However, it concerning that the medical staff on the field were not empowered to make that decision.  The risk is not that the player may not be fit to continue, but that a second head injury sustained while still recovering from the first could lead to a very severe injury far greater than the sum of the two separate impacts.  The fact that a concussive head injury had been sustained should have been enough for the player to have been removed from the field.  As sad as it is for the player involved, is the same as a broken leg – that player simply cannot continue.   

The fact that this player was clearly so visibly affected should have had warning sirens flashing and there is no way he should have been allowed to continue, regardless of the views of his captain or manager, and the more time given to him to recover on the field would have made no difference to the outcome.” 

Gary Herbert is a Partner in personal injury here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about a head injury in sport or indeed any other aspect of personal injury and wish to speak to Gary or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Gary directly.

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