November 29 – The Scottish Football Association (SFA) is to bring in a ban on professional footballers heading the ball in training the day before and the day after a game.
The move comes as the debate intensifies over the possible links between repetitive heading of the ball and brain disease. A number of high profile players have died from dementia in recent years with families linking their dementia to their football careers and heading the ball.
The Scottish guidelines follow on research by Glasgow University showing that former footballers were 3.5 times more likely to die from brain disease.
Scottish clubs are also being told to limit exercises that involve repetitive heading to one session per week.
The new guidelines come after consultation with the 50 clubs across the professional men’s and women’s game in Scotland and an SFA survey of clubs.
Clubs are being asked to monitor heading drills in training with the aim of reducing the overall burden of contact.
Scotland already has guidelines that heading in youth football, with a ban on headers in training for the under-12 age group.
Scotland was also the first country in the world to have a single set of concussion guidelines for all sports, with the “If in doubt, sit them out” campaign.
The SFA’s Dr John MacLean said: “While the research continues to develop, what we already know about heading and its effects on the brain suggests that there is measurable memory impairment lasting 24-48 hours following a series of headers, and that brain-related proteins can be detected in blood samples for a short time after heading.”
“Brain scan changes have also been reported in footballers that may be linked to heading.
“Therefore, the goal is to reduce any potential cumulative effect of heading by reducing the overall exposure to heading in training.”
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