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Fulham boss Scott Parker in favour of introducing enhanced concussion protocols

Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur – Craven Cottage
(Image credit: Anthony Devlin)

Fulham manager Scott Parker has spoken in favour of introducing enhanced concussion protocols in the game, saying they would help to take the heat off players and medical staff.

Trials of additional permanent concussion substitutes are set to be approved at the annual business meeting of the game’s law-making body the International Football Association Board (IFAB) on Wednesday.

The Football Association has already stated that – subject to approval – it is hoping to introduce the additional substitute at the “earliest possible stage” of the men’s and women’s FA Cup, as well as the Women’s Super League and Championship.

It is understood the Premier League is waiting to see the detail of the concussion protocol from IFAB before making a decision. Its clubs are meeting on Thursday, and there could be a vote on when and if to make the change at that meeting.

Parker appeared to suggest a preference for players being able to return if cleared by an assessment.

World players’ union FIFPRO has campaigned for temporary substitutions to be allowed, alongside an extended 10-minute assessment period, after which the temporary sub could be withdrawn and replaced or stay on if the player with suspected concussion is deemed unfit to continue.

However, he said any improvement to existing protocols which might make the whole process more clear-cut would be beneficial.

The Cottagers boss said: “I do think concussion subs may take the pressure off the medical (staff) or the actual sportsmen in the heat of the arena of competition.

Scott Parker applauds the Craven Cottage crowd

Fulham manager Scott Parker believes changes to the rules on concussion will benefit players and medical staff (Neil Hall/PA)

“What comes with that is a real desperation at times to stay on the pitch or (to say) ‘no, I’m going to be alright’. To have that ability to take someone off and then have an option to come back on would be helpful.

“I know, I was that player and I wouldn’t have wanted to come off the pitch no matter what. So if someone had said to me, whether that’s right or wrong, that’s the fact, so definitely if something’s in place that can only help.”

IFAB is also set to provide updates regarding handball and offside.

Its football and technical panels support further clarification being issued on handball, and it has been reported that the ‘strict liability’ around handball when the hand or arm is above shoulder level will be looked at, along with the wording related to what constitutes an ‘unnatural’ body position in the penalising of the offence.

The agenda also includes a discussion of offside, and how the law could be altered to make the game more “attractive and dynamic”.

The panels said last month that any proposal would need to be applicable at all levels of the game, not just the elite end of the game with access to technology, and be subject to “extensive” trials.

The panels also said the temporary amendment to allow up to five substitutes should continue and be kept under constant review. A number of leagues and competitions have adopted this, with England’s Premier League a notable and controversial exception.