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Football lawmakers reject calls for temporary concussion substitutes Main Image

Football lawmakers reject calls for temporary concussion substitutes

Tue 05 Mar 2024

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) has again missed an opportunity to improve head injury protocols in football by rejecting calls for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes.

From 1 July 2024, teams will be permitted to use an additional permanent substitute to replace a player who is showing signs of a potential concussion. However, the decision as to whether or not a player is suspected of having a concussion would still need to be made on the pitch.

This is a different approach to that proposed by the Premier League and players’ unions the PFA and FifPro, and supported by Headway, that called for the use of a temporary concussion substitute.

This would allow for a player to be temporarily replaced for a period of ten or fifteen minutes while they are assessed for concussion in a suitable off-field environment. Following the assessment, they would either be passed as fit to continue, or the replacement made permanent for the rest of the game.

Luke Griggs, Chief Executive of Headway – the brain injury association, said the charity was bitterly disappointed by the IFAB decision not to introduce temporary concussion substitutes.

“Whilst introducing a permanent concussion substitute might initially seem like a positive step, the truth is that the game’s rule-makers had the chance to take a more positive and effective approach, which they failed to do.” said Luke.

“We have seen time and again how players at the elite level are kept on the pitch after a head injury, only to then be removed from the game a short while later showing clearer signs of concussion.

“This not only highlights the incredibly difficult job medics have in making snap judgements on the pitch, under the intense pressure and glare of television cameras and tens of thousands of fans, but also risks exacerbating the seriousness of the brain injury sustained by the players.

“Allowing a minimum allotted time to conduct an effective off-field assessment for head injury - like they do in other sports - shows respect for the medics and their important job, but more importantly it shows respect for player welfare and for the nature of head injury which can have devastating long-term effects.

“We commend the Premier League and others for making the case for temporary concussion substitutions, but we are bitterly disappointed that the games rule makers have missed yet another opportunity to introduce an important layer of player protection.”
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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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