RIO DE JANEIRO: FIFA’s own medical staff are monitoring the condition of Alvaro Pereira who was allowed to continue playing against England after being briefly knocked unconscious last night writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Some sports medical observers commented in surprise after the Uruguayan defender appeared to overrule team medical staff and insist on returning to the game which the Celeste went on to win 2-1.
A similar controversy arose in the English Premier League last November. Tottenham’s France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris continued playing after being briefly rendered unconscious after colliding with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku.
Pereira was hurt in the 61st minute of the Group D game in Sao Paulo after being struck accidentally, as he fell, by a knee of England forward Raheem Sterling.
FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said this morning that the player had been authorided to continue by Pan “because a neurological examination was normal.”
She said that FIFA medical staff had offered “immediate support for further examinaions and would continue, with the Uruguayan team, to monitor the player.”
However the ultimate responsibility was vested in the team’s medical officer.
Pereira said later: “After the hit, I only recall that I was unconscious for an instant. It was like the lights went out a little bit.
“I said ‘sorry’ a thousand times to the doctor because I was dizzy. It was that moment your adrenaline flowing in your body, maybe without thinking … what I really wanted to do was to help get the result.
“What really matters is that everything is OK. Nothing happened. It was just a scare”.
Concern was expressed by the international players’ union FIFPro. It urged FIFA “to conduct a thorough investigation into its own competition concussion protocol which failed to protect Uruguayan footballer Alvaro Pereira.”
FIFPro also demanded “urgent talks and immediate assurances that FIFA can guarantee the safety of the players.” It also suggested possible rule changes so players suspected of being concussed can be temporarily substituted while being assessed.
A statement added: “Football is awash with incidents in which players suffer potentially concussive blows to the head and stay on the pitch. In Pereira’s case, he demanded to play on, overruling advice from Uruguay’s team physician for him to be immediately substituted.
“FIFPro understands that in certain moments, faced by the pressures of such an important international stage, many players would react in this way. There are times, however, when the players also require greater protection against the prospect of making any rash decisions.
“The World Cup must set the standard for player health and safety to educate the international football community. Medical evidence shows that a person faces the risk of very serious brain injury, or worse, if he or she suffers a severe head trauma from a concussive blow.”