In wake of Pereira incident, players union lashes out at FIFA and suggests reforms in head injury protocol


FIFPro has ripped FIFA for Uruguay’s handling of Alvaro Pereira’s incident in Thursday’s match against England, and presented a pair of suggestions that could progress soccer towards a better view towards head injuries.

Pereira was very clearly knocked out by incidental contact with Raheem Sterling’s knee, but once he came to he refused to come off despite doctors pleading with him to make the substitution.

With the ghost of second-impact syndrome looming, FIFA has largely ignored the elephant in the room, and with this new incident on a world stage, the player’s union has decided enough is enough.

They insisted FIFA conduct “a thorough investigation into its own competition concussion protocol which failed to protect Uruguayan footballer Alvaro Pereira.”

FIFPro also presented the following suggestions as possible fixes to the problem:

  • An independent doctor with no bias conducts a thorough evaluation after a player suffers a loss of consciousness or other concussion symptoms.
  • The institution of a temporary substitute so the head evaluation can take place without the team looking to rush the player back into play.

While those seem nice, there’s sure to be backlash for a temporary sub.  New competative balance issues could arise if a team takes advantage of this temporary substitute to give a tired player a rest.  In addition, if a temporary substitute were to score a goal, it would no doubt leave the opposing team hard done by, with a fresh player able to come off the bench without substitution consequences.

Ultimately, the goal is to protect players from themselves in the heat of the moment.

“FIFPro understands that in certain moments, faced by the pressures of such an important international stage, many players would react in this way,” the group said in a statement. “There are times, however, when the players also require greater protection against the prospect of making any rash decisions. (A player with a potential head injury) must be subjected to further evaluation and follow-up procedures that help determine if and when he can return to training.”

Second-impact syndrome is a dangerous, potentially fatal, and very real situation where a concussed player receives a second blow to the head.  Once a player has sustained a concussion, their head becomes exponentially more susceptible to serious, potentially fatal effects should they take another impact.

Everton’s John Stones out of England squad with injury

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: John Stones of Everton clears during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park on September 12, 2015 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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John Stones has been ruled out of England’s upcoming EURO qualifiers after suffering a knee injury while playing for Everton.

The 21-year-old center-back has missed Everton’s last two Premier League matches, and was unable to recover in time for England’s qualifiers this weekend.

Manager Roy Hodgson has called in Tottenham’s Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker as replacements for the absent Stones.

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England has already qualified for EURO 2016 with a perfect record in Group E, winning all eight of their matches. With upcoming games against Estonia and Lithuania, Hodgson has said he will experiment a bit with some new players, which lessens the impact of Stones’ injury.

Despite the match being meaningless in terms of a result, players will still be eager to impress the manager in an effort to lock up a spot on the final roster for the tournament in June.

Manchester United’s Luke Shaw is out for an extended period of time after breaking his leg in the Champions League, while Everton’s Leighton Baines hasn’t played since August after undergoing ankle surgery.

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Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand has been recalled to the side, and said he will try to grab the left-back position “by the scruff of the neck.”

Liverpool’s Danny Ings was given his first call-up and Swansea City’s Jonjo Shelvey returns to the fold, although both players missed training with injuries and their status moving forward is uncertain.

Landon Donovan: Klinsmann should be fired if USMNT loses to Mexico

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 04: Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the United States looks on before playing Peru during an international friendly at RFK Stadium on September 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Landon Donovan and Jurgen Klinsmann haven’t had the rosiest of relationships.

Since being left off of the 2014 World Cup roster and retiring from the game, Donovan has often been critical of Klinsmann and his tenure with the USMNT.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Ahead of Saturday’s CONCACAF playoff match against Mexico, Donovan said he believes Klinsmann should be fired if the United States loses.

Speaking to ESPN FC:

Around the world, if a player plays poorly and a player has a bad string of results, they get dropped from the team.

Jurgen said many times he wants our players to feel pressure — so if they lose a game they can’t go to the grocery store the next day. If they lose a game, they are getting hammered in the press.

Well, the same holds true for the coach, and so we had a very poor summer with bad results in the Gold Cup. The last game against Brazil was probably the worst game I’ve seen them play under Jurgen.

The reality is that now, anywhere else in the world, if this coach had those results, and they lose this game against Mexico, they’d be fired.

I think if Jurgen wants to hold all the players to that standard, then he has to be held to that standard too.

Heading into the Gold Cup this summer on the heels of some great wins over the Netherlands and Germany, the United States’ performance was wildly disappointing, losing in the semifinals to Jamaica and finishing in fourth place.

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President of U.S. Soccer Sunil Gulati has shown great faith in Klinsmann, giving him a contract until 2018 as both manager and technical director of the program. However, pressure has been building after a string of poor results.

For Klinsmann, this is arguably his biggest match in charge of the USMNT. Not only does it have implications for the Confederations Cup in 2017, but it is also against Mexico, which always puts added pressure on a manager. If the U.S. loses, more people than Donovan will be calling for a change.