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Former professional footballers urged to submit feedback on head injuries in the sport

  • 11.05.2022
  • EmmaArnold
  • Personal-injury
  • brain injuy neurodegenerative disease head injury in football

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) is looking to improve the understanding of former professional players with neurogenerative diseases such as dementia.

It has launched a consultation exercise to obtain answers from those living with the diseases in order to continue work towards an industry-wide care fund to support players and their families.

The PFA is looking to speak to as many former players and their families as possible to establish further evidence of the link between heading a ball, brain injury and its potential long-term consequences.

Since the publication of the FIELD study in 2019, the PFA has been campaigning for a response to the issue after it found the risk of dementia as a cause of death increased by around 3.5 times in ex-professional footballers.

Although discussions are happening in the industry and there is coverage on the issue in the media, the PFA hope to take it one step further with some actual support and funding to help former players and their families.

In order for this to occur, the union are looking to hear from those affected or if anyone has concerns about potential conditions but are yet to be diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease.

Dawn Astle, Project Lead for neurodegenerative disease in football at the PFA, said: “I hope this process will encourage more former players to come forward and help further demonstrate the sheer scale of the issue. My focus has always been on fighting to secure substantial and long-term support for families caring for loved ones with a neurodegenerative disease. I’ve always been clear that the responsibility and duty of care towards players rests, not just with the union, but the entire football industry.

As a result of the work undertaken to understand the issue, the PFA is now launching a care department solely focussed on neurodegenerative disease. The union has realised, however, that families need more than just emotional support, they need financial assistance to provide the care they need.

Elliott Clifton-Thompson, personal injury solicitor at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

Following the 2019 study into football’s influence on lifelong health and dementia risk, it is a welcome sight that the PFA are now opening a consultation to gather information from former footballers and their families.

The link between heading balls and latent neurodegenerative conditions deserves close examination, especially given the high numbers trying to enter the professional game at a young age. The consultation will hopefully go some way to not only establishing the cause, but also bolstering support for an industry wide care fund to support those affected.

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