The Professional Footballers Association (PFA) and FIFPRO, the global players ‘union, have warned that permanent concussion substitutes tested in the Premier League put players’ health and safety at risk.
The two organizations wrote a joint letter to the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which governs the laws of the game, calling for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes at trial from June.
In recent months, there have been concerns about the number of former players who have developed dementia from concussion incidents.
The latest research suggests that former footballers are three and a half times more likely to die from degenerative brain diseases than the general population.
In November, Wolves forward Raul Jimenez fractured his skull in a clash with Arsenal defender David Luiz.
Two months later, the Premier League introduced a trial of permanent concussion substitutes, the idea being that when in doubt players should be protected by being permanently removed from the game. The lawsuit has also been adopted in the FA Cup, the Women’s Super League, the Women’s Championship and the Women’s FA Cup.
However, the approach has been criticized. Some fear that footballers will try to disguise their symptoms in order to continue playing and argue that temporary substitutes would allow a period of evaluation by a medical professional instead.
In Thursday’s letter, the PFA and FIFPRO said: “Since the start of the ongoing IFAB concussion surrogate trial, we have seen several incidents where the new gambling laws have failed to serve their purpose and endangered the health and safety of players.
“We are writing to request that the existing trial be extended to parallel test temporary concussion substitutions as soon as possible.
“In December 2020, the FIFPRO and PFA player unions welcomed the IFAB decision to invite competitions to test permanent concussion substitutions. At the same time, we remained in favor of testing temporary substitutes for concussion. concussion This has been our position for many years.
“The PFA is pleased that the Football Association (FA) and the Premier League are incorporating the new laws of the game into their English football competitions.
“The Premier League introduced permanent concussion substitutions on February 6, and three days later Issa Diop became the first player in English football to be replaced with a concussion replacement.
“In England since the start of the trial we are aware of two incidents where a temporary replacement option would have better protected the players. In each case the players suffered a head injury but, following an initial assessment on the field, continued to play and were later removed when it turned out that their head injury was worse than expected.
“Both of these incidents took place in the Premier League, where the trial is taking place, and involved Issa Diop of West Ham United and George Baldock of Sheffield United.
“These cases underscore our concern that permanent replacements do not give medical teams the appropriate environment to assess a player with a potentially serious head injury.”
In Diop’s case, he faced Manchester United’s Anthony Martial towards the end of the first half of West Ham’s loss at Old Trafford.
He played until halftime, when he was substituted, with the Hammers confirming he was substituted under the new concussion protocol.
Baldock suffered a similar fate, bumping his head in Sheffield United’s loss to Leeds earlier this month, but playing before being substituted minutes later.
The letter also refers to a FIFPRO poll which found that 83 percent of 96 doctors surveyed in English, Belgian and French superior flights felt that temporary concussion substitutes should be part of the future protocol.
Professor Willie Stewart, one of Britain’s leading head injury experts, described football’s concussion protocols as “a mess” when addressing a hearing at the Digital, Culture Committee , media and sport last month.
Heading guidelines are expected to be introduced for the professional and adult base game for the start of next season, the Premier League said last month.
The AF has championed the permanent substitution model of concussions in the past, arguing that it best fits its “If in doubt, locate it” approach for head trauma.
The governing body’s chief of medicine, Dr Charlotte Cowie, said last December that the FA felt “obligated” to try permanent substitutes for concussions and pointed to the 15% of “false negatives” found in World Rugby data on temporary substitutes, where players returned after a longer evaluation but were subsequently diagnosed with concussion.
It is understood that the IFAB examines the content of the letter before issuing a response.