•Stiles and many of his 1966 World Cup winning team mates had been diagnosed with dementia before their deaths
•The PFA has said clubs, leagues and the Football Association must develop a strategy to monitor and adapt training, and also come up with techniques that will protect the long-term health of players
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has said it is his personal duty and the game’s responsibility to address the problem of dementia that has impacted several former players.
The issue of dementia in the professional game was sparked by the death of England’s Nobby Stiles in October and there have been calls for the issue of head injuries in sport to be given further attention.
Stiles and many of his 1966 World Cup winning team mates had been diagnosed with dementia before their deaths while United great Bobby Charlton also disclosed his diagnosis recently.
“It’s been very sad. Bobby’s not been well for a while. The gates have been opened by Nobby’s passing and Bobby’s diagnosis. They are huge figures. It has to create an awareness,” Ferguson told the Daily Mail.
“I don’t know what the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) is doing but the League Managers Association is concerned and (chief executive) Richard Bevan has been fantastic,” he said.
“We have to see what we can do to help. Football has a duty to look at the situation ... People like myself owe it to the game to see if there’s something we can do.”
The PFA has said clubs, leagues and the Football Association must develop a strategy to monitor and adapt training, and also come up with techniques that will protect the long-term health of players. There have been widespread calls to reduce heading during training sessions.
“Heading is a part of football that has been there for over 100 years and you can’t take it out,” Ferguson said. “But I think it would be easy to reduce it in training.”
Ferguson as well as Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish and England boss Gareth Southgate will take part in an online event this month to raise money for the battle against dementia.