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Headway ‘disappointed’ by IFAB’s ‘reluctance’ to adapt concussion protocols

Robin Koch File Photo
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Football’s lawmakers have been accused of showing a “reluctance to change” as brain injury association Headway calls for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes.

A spokesperson for the International Football Association Board (IFAB) told the PA news agency on Tuesday that the matter would be discussed at its annual general meeting on March 3 but that “at this stage, changes to the protocols are not foreseen”.

The issue of concussion in the sport was brought into sharp focus on Sunday when Leeds defender Robin Koch sustained a blow to the head against Manchester United.

Koch was left covered in blood after clashing with Scott McTominay in the 12th minute but returned to the pitch with his head bandaged before going down again and eventually being withdrawn in the 31st minute.

Football Association guidelines state any player who sustains a suspected concussion should immediately be removed from the pitch but both Headway and the Professional Footballers’ Association have already criticised the current protocols.

Now Headway has called on the IFAB to take the opportunity to make alterations to the current process and introduce temporary substitutes so any head injury can be thoroughly examined.

The charity claims that, if IFAB does not consider the move, its commitment to tackling head injuries in football would be called into question.

In a statement entitled ‘Football, once again, shows its reluctance to change’, Headway deputy chief executive Luke Griggs said: “We are extremely disappointed by IFAB’s continued reluctance to adapt its concussion protocols and better protect players from concussion.

Leeds United v Manchester United – Premier League – Elland Road

Robin Koch received medical attention after clashing heads with Manchester United’s Scott McTominay (Mike Egerton/PA)

“IFAB has an opportunity at its AGM to review its protocol, yet even before the meeting it appears it has already decided nothing will change.

“What more needs to happen for football to accept that the current plan isn’t working?

“Temporary substitutions would allow for assessments to be conducted in the quiet confines of a treatment or dressing room, without the team being disadvantaged.

“It’s another level of protection that would reduce the number of images we see of players forced to go down on their haunches unable to carry on due to the effects of concussion.

“IFAB has a chance here to improve the way it treats concussion. Failure to do so would call into question its commitment to the concussion principle of, ‘If in doubt, sit it out!'”

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