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Football Head Injuries- Lessons to be Learnt

29 Jun 2021

It's clear that the football industry still has a long way to go and lessons to learn in looking after the short and long-term health of football players. This comes after a handful of serious incidents during Euro 2020 where players have suffered head injuries on the pitch and were then allowed to stay on the pitch and play.

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Pavard, Baumgartner, and Danilo’s recent head injury incidents on the pitch during Euro 2020, happened despite UEFA introducing a Euro 2020 Concussion Charter- ‘as a further step towards protecting the health of players’, with the charter stating that “We confirm that if a player of our team is suspected of having suffered a concussion, he will be immediately removed from the pitch, whether in training or match play.”  However, Pavard, Baumgartner, and Danilo were not immediately removed the pitch with Pavard saying he had been “a little knocked out for 10 or 15 seconds” before going back on to play. Baumgartner suffered a head injury but remained on the pitch,although he was "visibly struggling and went down holding his head on two more occasions, but was not withdrawn until almost 15 minutes after the original incident.”  Danilo collapsed after being hit in the jaw during play but was cleared to continue play although he was withdrawn at half-time. 


In reponse to Pavard’s incident, the brain injury charity Headway said: “This is another example of football authorities failing to protect the short- and long-term health of a player.  “It was plain for all to see that Pavard was unable to protect himself from the fall. Pavard’s later statement that he lost consciousness confirms the seriousness of the incident.  “We have continuously been told that football’s concussion protocols are fit for purpose and that temporary concussion substitutes are not necessary. But here we have yet another example where it is simply not credible to suggest that a concussion could not be ‘suspected’ or a possible consequence of the impact. However, after a brief on-pitch assessment the player was allowed to continue.  “Furthermore, it appeared that the referee was attempting to speed up the medical team and usher them and the player off the pitch, rather than allowing them the time they needed to assess the seriousness of the injury.  “Why is it so hard for football to accept it has got this wrong and follow the example set by other sports by introducing temporary concussion substitutes?” 

Head Injuries In Sport

These incidents have occured, after a number of high-profile sports players have been left with long-term problems. Three Lions heroes Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles, and Ray Wilson were all diagnosed with dementia.  Rugby World Cup 2003 winning hooker Steve Thompson and ex-Wales back row Alix Popham claimed the sport left them with permanent brain damage.  The football industry must adapt policy of- if there is any doubt, sit it out!Watch Headway's Concussion Campaign video:


Head and brain injuries happen in all sorts of sports, not just football.

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