KEIR RADNEDGE in MANCHESTER —- A match must be halted for at least three minutes if a player is suspected of concussion under new rules being considered by world football’s medical experts.
Michel D’Hooghe, veteran Belgian chairman of FIFA’s medical committee, revealed the proposal at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester.
The world federation reacted to concern at the World Cup in Brazil about concussion incidents involving, among others, Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira in a group match against England and Germany’s Christoph Kramer in the final against Argentina.
This followed concern about uncertainty over medical and managerial priorities and responsibilities after an incident last November involving Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the Premier League.
FIFA also faces the possibility of legal action in the United States over concern at the danger of head injuries from repeated heading of the ball by young people.
D’Hooghe denied that football had been tardy in its reaction to increasing concern over concussion while setting out measures being undertaken to clarify the regulatory response.
He said: “I have heard it said sometimes that FIFA and football is not taking care enough against concussion. In fact our first directions date as far back as 2003.
“We have organised four conferences and made our conclusions public in the British Journal of Sports Medicine so people can’t tell me that FIFA did nothing.
“What is true is that we had no strict rules.”
D’Hooghe said that last month he had led a meeting involving FIFA experts, including medical chief Jiri Dvorak and representatives of national teams including England and Germany.
They had come up with a proposal which should go to the executive committee later this month for ratification and implemention worldwide from October 1.
D’Hooghe explained: “There are sports like American Football where they have 200 concussions a year and in Australian Football they have 120 a year. In soccer we have a concussion case once in 20 games so it is not frequent but that does not mean it is not a serious problem.
“Now the medical committee is proposing that where there is a suspected concussion the referee must stop the game for three minutes which will give the team doctor the chance to evaluate medically the condition of the player.
“Of course if he is unconscious it is not difficult but if he is not, it gives the doctor the chance to talk to him and give him a brief neurological examination and then take a decision.
“The team doctor must have the chance to talk to him and take a decision. The referee will allow the player to continue only with the permission of the team doctor. The decision is for the team doctor . . . not for the coach and not for the player.”
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