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Headway reiterates belief that football’s new concussion rules are “deeply flawed”

  • 25.02.2021
  • JessicaMG
  • Personal-injury
  • Brain Injury Personal Injury serious injury Headway head injury concussion football Mild Traumatic Brain Injury post concussion syndrome

Leading brain injury charity Headway - the brain injury association, has reiterated its belief that football’s new concussion rules are “deeply flawed” following their domestic application for the first time on Tuesday 9th February.

During the FA cup match between Manchester United and West Ham United at Old Trafford earlier this month, Issa Diop (West Ham) Anthony Marshall (Manchester United) clashed heads following a corner kick. Both players received 2 minutes of treatment on the pitch before returning to play. However, Diop was later substituted at half-time, becoming the first player to be substituted via the new protocol, which allows clubs to make up to two additional, permanent substitutions in the event of head injuries.

But Headway chief executive Peter McCabe says the new rule – adopted by the Football Association for the remainder of this season’s FA Cup fixtures, as well as by the Premier League – doesn't go far enough.

Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, comments: 

“The decision to allow Issa Diop to return to the field of play after being assessed for concussion in just two minutes while still on the pitch shows just how deeply flawed this new protocol is.

“When this rule was introduced to much fanfare, we warned that it would make very little difference in terms of protecting players from the risk of more serious injury.”

Headway has maintained that the rule would have been much more effective if it allowed temporary substitutes – therefor allowing Diop to leave the field immediately in the knowledge he could return if deemed safe to do so. Peter continued:

“Had football's authorities followed the advice of Headway and other leading experts by introducing temporary substitutes, as successfully used in other sports, Diop would not have been at risk of exacerbating the injury to his brain during the seven minutes he was allowed to play on before half time.

“Instead, he could have had a longer assessment, which would have included the 15-minutes of half time, in a quiet treatment room. This would have given the medical team more time to make their decision.

“The new protocol has failed its very first test. FIFA and IFAB must act now to alter the rule and introduce temporary concussion substitutes to avoid such unacceptable risk being taken in the future.”