NEW RULES

Temporary concussion subs could be introduced for next year’s finals

It comes after new research found former professional footballers suffer disproportionately from brain disease.

In Summary

• The proposal will also be on the agenda for Ifab’s annual general meeting (AGM) in February, which is where law changes could be made before a potential roll-out for Euro 2020.

• Rugby union uses a system that allows team medics to withdraw an injured player from the pitch if they show signs of being concussed.

Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen down injured
Tottenham's Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen down injured
Image: /REUTERS

Temporary concussion substitutions could be introduced for the first time at the Euro 2020 finals.

The proposal to replace players if they are suspected of being concussed is on the agenda for the International Football Association Board’s (Ifab) annual business meeting next Tuesday.

It comes after new research found former professional footballers suffer disproportionately from brain disease. A similar protocol has already been introduced in rugby union.

The proposal will also be on the agenda for Ifab’s annual general meeting (AGM) in February, which is where law changes could be made before a potential roll-out for Euro 2020.

“The board will also continue the debate, which started during the advisory panel meeting in October, on concussion assessment - and management [of concussion] during matches at different levels of the game will be discussed,” a statement read.

Ifab is in the process of appointing a group of medical and legal experts to look into the viability of the proposal, which would give players more time to be assessed by team doctors. That group is yet to be formed — but its view on the proposal, which the players’ union Fifpro is strongly in favour of, could be crucial to what Ifab decides at its AGM next year.

Experts at Glasgow University found that ex-professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than people of the same age range in the general population. The study began after claims that former West Brom striker Jeff Astle died because of repeated head trauma.

The co-author of the research, Dr John MacLean, said he is “hopeful” that football will bring in rugby-style temporary concussion substitutions. Rugby union uses a system that allows team medics to withdraw an injured player from the pitch if they show signs of being concussed.

While the injured player is off the pitch, rugby teams are able to temporarily replace them, a change which can be reversed if the substituted player is able to return to the field of play.