May 2 – The head of FIFA’s medical committee says the introduction of substitutions specifically in cases of concussion could be a consideration in the light of the head injury sustained by Tottenham Hotspur’s Jan Vertonghen against Ajax in this week’s Champions League semi-final.
But, says Michel d’Hooghe, club doctors must retain the final say in determining whether players are fit to return to the pitch.
Tottenham insist their medical staff followed strict UEFA protocal in allowing Vertonghen to return to the field even though seconds later he collapsed and had to be helped off the pitch for the remainder of the game.
The Belgian did not lose consciousness but risks missing next week’s second leg in Amsterdam with Ajax leading 1-0.
“Introducing substitutes specifically for concussion is a possibility and something worth discussing,” D’Hooghe told The Times newspaper.
“But if you bring a player off for 10 minutes and they are then reintroduced without warming up properly, it’s more likely to lead to muscle injuries… there are problems with that too.”
“The team doctors must be responsible for their own players. They know the players and are in a better position to assess whether they have been unconscious, or are in danger.”
Last month, d’Hooghe denounced the decision to allow Fabian Schar to play on during Switzerland’s Euro 2020 qualifier with Georgia despite the player suffering from concussion.
The Newcastle defender clashed heads with Georgia’s Jemal Tabidze midway through the first half which led to a five-minute stoppage – similar to that of Vertonghen.
The difference was that Schar played the remainder of the match despite admitting he was “out for a few seconds” and could not remember anything about the incident.
“When a player is unconscious he should immediately be removed from the pitch and should not return,” d’Hooghe said at the time.
“When a player is unconscious even for a few seconds he should not continue playing. This is the advice from all eminent neurologists.”
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