London, March 9 (AFP/APP): A concussion expert told British lawmakers on Tuesday that football’s management of head injuries was a “shambles” during a parliamentary inquiry on the issue.
The House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee probe into concussion in sport comes as concerns grow over the potential risks of long-term brain injury. England 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton has recently been diagnosed with dementia and a group of former rugby internationals are involved in a legal case against a number of governing bodies after being diagnosed with neurological conditions.
Consultant neuropathologist Willie Stewart, speaking to MPs, said he could not understand why football had not followed rugby’s path in introducing temporary substitutions, which allow a longer period of time for a potential concussion to be assessed. “Football has a habit, whenever it is forced to develop, of going out on their own and trying to develop something unique to everybody else as if the problem never occurred before,” he said.
“What football has introduced is a shambles in 2021.” Football’s lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), has approved trials of permanent concussion substitutes, with the initial on-field assessment period remaining at three minutes before next steps — further examination or a substitution — are taken. Asked whether temporary substitutions were preferable, Stewart added: “Unquestionably.
Rugby has made great developments in understanding how you can assess and identify players with brain injury on the field, and that should be the model and the benchmark that (other) sports start from.
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