Leagues and players’ union plot path through foggy concussion protocols

October 1 – Europe’s football leagues have joined forces with the international players’ union body FIFPro to try and improve the way concussion cases are managed, potentially including independent doctors being on site.

The European Leagues grouping and FIFPro said Tuesday they will strike agreements with domestic leagues “over the course of the coming two seasons” and subsequently make recommendations

The new framework has been announced in the wake of the football’s law-making body IFAB exploring the idea of allowing temporary substitutes to replace players suspected of being concussed.

“Concussion, while not as frequent as other muscular or skeletal injuries in football, can have extreme short and long-term health consequences for football players,” a joint statement said. “In order to prevent and manage the risks associated with concussions more effectively national leagues and player unions will implement enhanced concussion management protocols, which include:

  • Implementation and application of the principles and objectives of the International Consensus Statement on Concussions in Sport and related rules in the relevant domestic rules. Such rules are to be transposed by the national parties in the relevant domestic rules. This includes concussion management procedures on the field as well as return to play protocols.
  • Pre-season education programs to be implemented with players, coaches, medical staff and referees.
  • Joint league and player union procedures and/or structures for the monitoring and reporting of concussive incidents and the application of the relevant regulations. Such procedures to be connected to sanctioning mechanisms.
  • Measures (such as the requirement of further training and education) and procedures for the enforcement of the domestic regulatory standards via disciplinary codes or similar.
  • Depending on the domestic capacities, in-game instant video replay for the identification of concussion, via live broadcasting images may be made available to the relevant medical staff.
  • Independent physicians and other innovative support mechanisms such as independent stadium spotters will be considered based on a country by country basis to identify and assess suspected concussions.

“This is a critical issue for our players’ long term wellbeing,” said Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, general secretary of FIFPro’s Europe division. “Other sports such as rugby or American football have been able to improve the management of and awareness for concussions significantly in their sports. Football needs to now follow suit.”

European Leagues Managing Director Jacco Swart added: “We are glad to cooperate with FIFPro Europe to gradually improve the standards for the management of concussions in domestic league football. Prevention and proper intervention procedures are key to safeguard players’ health. We will present and discuss the details of this cooperation agreement with our member leagues on the occasion of our upcoming General Assembly in London on 18 October.”

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