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FIFPro Calls For Concussion Investigation

Fri 20th Jun 2014 | World Cup 2014

FIFPro is calling on FIFA to conduct a thorough investigation into its own competition concussion protocol which failed to protect Uruguayan footballer Alvaro Pereira during the World Cup match against England on Thursday.

Pereira was seemingly knocked unconscious in the 60th minute of the match after being struck by Raheem Sterling’s knee but once conscious and clearly unsteady on his feet was allowed to continue despite the team doctor calling for his substitution.

That decision has angered FIFPro, the World Footballers' Association, who are now seeking urgent talks and immediate assurances from FIFA to guarantee the safety of the players for the remainder of the tournament and beyond.

A statement released by FIFPro read, “FIFPro calls for a review of the laws of the game so that a player with a suspected concussion can be temporarily replaced whilst being diagnosed.

“FIFPro will be monitoring the health of Pereira over the course of today. He must be subjected to further evaluation and follow-up procedures that help determine if and when he can return to training.

“Any information obtained by FIFPro will be made available in due course."

FIFPro argue that the World Cup must set the standard for player health and safety to educate the international football community.

Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris suffered a similar injury during a Premier League game at White Hart Lane last season but was allowed to continue the rest of the game.

Speaking to fcbusiness in the January (page 52), FIFPro’s chief medical advisor, Dr Vincent Gouttebarge said that players should not be allowed to continue playing unless they have been properly assessed by a medical professional who ultimately should have the final say.

He said, “The decision should be taken by a medical doctor or health professional and not by coaches or the player themselves.

“After the Lloris incident in November, FIFPro has called all football bodies and clubs to put the health and safety of the players first by respecting the international concussion guidelines in order to protect optimally the health and safety of players.”

FIFPro also states that any sideline concussion assessment must not be conducted solely by a national team physician, something Kris Lines a Senior Lecturer, and Co-Director of the Centre for International Sports Law (CISL) at Staffordshire University agrees with.

“Does a cursory pitchside argument with medical staff constitute sufficient assessment? I would argue no,” he said in a blog on the matter.

"FIFA is supposed to have neutral doctors at every venue to intervene and/or overrule the team doctor, but it appears that no substitution or challenge was made in this case.

“Pereira is right to say that nothing happened this time, but sports officials have a duty to protect the athlete from themselves, and if the team cannot, this duty should fall on the referee.

“Brazil 2014 may have disappearing sprays and goal-line technology, but ultimately these gadgets are sideshows to the main event. Until officials and teams can enforce FIFA’s own medical rules, football seems very vulnerable to a negligence action, given the widely identified and foreseeable risks to health.

“The media and the public have already shown themselves able to recognise concussive events and there was widespread disapproval on Twitter of the decision to allow Pereira to continue.

“Without some form of enforcement mechanism though – whether through tighter regulations from FIFA, self-enforcement by the teams themselves, or a fear of lawsuits brought by players – this type of incident will continue unchecked at all levels of the game. Until something fundamental changes, sadly we will be making similar comments in another six months…”

Image: REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 

Posted by: Aaron Gourley 

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