LONDON: Two weeks after FIFA set a standard for concussion assessment the Thibaut Courtois incident in Chelsea’s defeat of Arsenal on Sunday indicated that room for conusion remained.
Ironically the new, tighter rules had been pushed through the world and European federations by a fellow Belgian, FIFA medical committee chairman Micbhel D’Hooghe.
The update insists that a match may be halted for up to three minutes for a medical assessment and then that the team doctor would have responsibility for the player’s continuance or replacement.
Courtois collided with Arsenal forwards Alexis Sanchez early in Sunday’s game but played on for 14 minutes before being substituted and sent to hospital for checks.
Television pictures appeared to show Courtois bleeding from an ear as he was replaced.
Concern about football’s attitude to head injuries was raised after six incidents during the World Cup in Brazil when players were allowed to continue on their own or their coach’s insistence.
Headway, the brain injury charity, criticised Chelsea’s response to the Courtois injury.
Chief executive Peter McCabe said it was “hard to understand how a concussion was not suspected”.
He added: “The new rules introduced this season were designed to ensure no risks to players’ health were taken. They state
clearly that ‘if there is any suspicion of the player having sustained a concussion, they must be removed from the field of play, and not allowed to return’.
“Bleeding from one or both ears is one of the symptoms that requires an immediate visit to hospital.”
Chelsea defended their actions, saying Courtois, 22, had suffered “a minor cut to the ear” snd that hospital tests were “all clear.”
Manager Jose Mourinho said after the match he was happy to defer to the expertise of his medical team.
He added: “They gave me the decision and for me, that’s correct – the club doctor or the club medical department to take control and take responsibility.”
Courtois tweeted on Monday: “Thanks for all the messages! I’m already feeling better. Now I’m resting to be recovered and back on the pitch soon. Great victory yesterday.”
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