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

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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.

STREAM LIVE: USMNT looks for 3 more points in Panama

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
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The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.

Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore

Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski

Reyes header gives Mexico three points in T&T (video)

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Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.

[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]

The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.

The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.

Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.

T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.

Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.

Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.

Honduras holds Costa Rica 1-1

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
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Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.

[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]

Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.

With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.

Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.

WATCH: Video Assistant calls back Griezmann goal

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France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.

Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.

[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]

Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):

At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.

When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.

What do you think?