The Professional Footballers’ Association of the UK has called for new rules put in place to stop any player carrying on after being knocked unconscious.
On Sunday the soccer world reacted vehemently after witnessing the disturbing scenes of Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris being knocked out following a head injury but then being allowed to play on.
Lloris clearly didn’t know what was going on, as you can see from the video above, but the French ‘keeper demanded to stay on the pitch and Spurs’ medical staff let him.
Now PFA deputy chief executive John Bramhall has called for an end to this madness, and released a statement in which he believes soccer needs to remove the decision making process when trying to assess whether a player who has lost consciousness is fit to continue a game.
“When treating a player on pitch, it can be very difficult to determine the severity of a head injury,” Bramhall said. “It is important to take the pressure off the players, club medical staff, and the manager – removing the need for them to make a very difficult decision. If anyone suffers a severe trauma to the head and loses consciousness, then they should be required to leave the field of play automatically.”
The incident involving Lloris on Sunday was made even worse given the fact the the player he collided with Romelu Lukaku, who had also been knocked unconscious earlier this season when scoring for Everton vs. West Ham. The Belgian striker carried on, but admitted afterwards that he had no clue what had happened when he scored. And another incident involving Stoke City’s Robert Huth has acted to further show how much of a massive problem this is in Englan’s top-flight.
Included in the statement are words from the World players’ union FIFPro who labelled the decision ‘unacceptable’ as their Medical Advisor Vincent Gouttebarge said: “The health and safety of the players should be the number one priority and should prevail against any other matters.”
FIFA’s guidelines also say a player should be automatically removed if there’s any doubt whatsoever about concussions. PFA spokesman Bramhall also added that his organization will try and get a change of ruling into place as soon as possible.
“The PFA will continue to work with the stakeholders within the game, to evaluate what guidelines are currently in place and to see if and how they need to be improved to provide better protection for all those involved in the game.”
In the U.S. head injuries in all sports, and particularly in soccer are taken very seriously. And having spent plenty of time playing and watching the game in both countries over the years, I’ve seen teammates in the USA succumb and retire from head injuries. Truth is, the same thing should have probably happened in English soccer circles a bunch of time… but worryingly it doesn’t. The amount of times you will hear something like, “he just got a whack on the head,” or “hopefully that will knock a bit of sense into him,” after English society in general witnesses a head injury is appalling.
The Premier League needs to bring this new guideline of automatic removal in place fast, if they do, then hopefully the rest of society will accept just how serious concussions in soccer are. Right now, as proved by the Lloris and Lukaku incidents this season, that’s not the case.