24th October 2019
FIFPRO is pleased that the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has decided to set up an expert group to study rule changes that would better protect the health and safety of professional footballers who may have suffered a concussion.
FIFPRO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gouttebarge has asked football authorities for six years to take more measures to protect professional footballers who have suffered a suspected concussion. A number of recent cases involving players in the FIFA World Cup, UEFA European Championship qualifying and UEFA Champions League have highlighted how critical this issue is.
“As a former player and now doctor working to improve the health and safety of footballers, I am pleased IFAB realizes the importance of considering rules relating to concussion,” Dr. Gouttebarge said. “I suffered concussions while playing in the Dutch league in 1998 and 2003 which were poorly managed by club staff who did not assess me carefully enough and allowed me to continue playing.
“Over the last six years, FIFPRO has recommended to FIFA and other football stakeholders that they extend the allotted time in which a doctor can assess a player with a potential concussion to 10 minutes. We would fully endorse any changes in the Laws of the Game that would facilitate this necessary 10-minutes window, such as the use of a temporary substitute during this period."
FIFPRO will continue to campaign for FIFA and other competition organizers to introduce additional regulations and protocols - which are outside the scope of IFAB – that would provide the medical teams with the optimal environment to protect the health and safety of football players. These should include the mandatory use of independent match doctors to assist team doctors on whether footballers with a concussion can continue playing.
The six-day return-to-play concussion protocol agreed by doctors representing FIFA, World Rugby, the International Olympic Committee and other sports organizations in the latest edition of the International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport should not be merely a guideline but incorporated in football regulations and protocols. These additional measures would help ensure that a concussed player is not only kept out of further danger during the course of a match but also in the days and weeks following a concussion.