Exclusive: FIFA Medical Committee acts on goalkeeper aggression

By David Owen

February 9 – FIFA is moving closer to taking action on overly aggressive play by goalkeepers. The organisation’s Medical Committee this week decided to send what chairman Michel D’Hooghe describes as a “strong” letter on the issue to colleagues on the Referees’ Committee.

This body is now chaired by Pierluigi Collina, the Italian widely regarded as the best referee of his era who was in charge for the 2002 World Cup final in Japan between Brazil and Germany.

It remains to be seen whether the letter will be instrumental in sparking a change of attitudes by current officials ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

No change in the laws is thought to be required, but rather consideration of a change in the way existing laws are applied.

Critics of the status quo have contended that, while additional protection for goalkeepers is justified, custodians sometimes commit, and go unpunished for, challenges that would be penalised if committed by an outfield player.

It is the nature of some of these challenges that they may result in collision with an opponent’s head. Contact sports have been coming under increasing pressure in recent times both to take steps to keep head injuries to a minimum and to adopt strict medical protocols when they do occur.

(Picture shows Germany’s Manuel Neuer challenging Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain in the 2014 World Cup final).

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