With so much scrutiny centered around head injuries in recent years, United States Soccer has admitted a serious mistake was made in handling a concussion sustained by one of the country’s star players.
Abby Wambach suffered a concussion playing for her club team, the Western New York Flash, in a road game against the Washington Spirit. It went undisclosed for 11 days by the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Now they’re admitting it was a mistake. Neil Buethe, a spokesman for the U.S. Soccer Federation who assists with the NWSL, explained the situation to Stefan Fatsis of the Salt Lake Times.
“This is a situation that wasn’t handled as we should have handled it. We admit that. We’re going to refocus to make sure referees, players, coaches, everyone has a better grasp going forward of how to handle concussions.”
Not only did the Federation admit a failure to disclose the injury, they also admitted the NWSL match referee Kari Seitz made a crucial mistake in barring medical personnel from entering the playing field to examine Wambach, and ultimately she remained in the game. Seitz is a veteran of both the World Cup and Olympics.
In a sports world where all the major U.S. leagues have placed a heightened importance on head injuries, the mistake is an unfortunate blemish among a plethora of attention on injuries of this nature.
In recent years, the National Football League has stepped up punishments on hits above the shoulders, Major League Baseball has instituted a 7-day disabled list specifically for concussions, and the National Hockey League has also cracked down on head shots and instituted new rules about hitting defenseless players.
Hopefully this will see not only women’s soccer but the sport as a whole continue to take steps to improve player safety, not just for the top levels, but as it influences the youth scene as well.