No temporary substitutes next season for footballers checked for concussion

    Mark Bullingham
    Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the English FA, said no consensus on the issue was reached (Picture: Matthew Ashton/Getty)

    The Premier League’s bid to try temporary concussion substitutes next season has been shot down by lawmakers.

    It is a major setback for brain injury campaigners, who have long called for temporary substitutes to protect players, enabling them to be properly assessed after blows to the head.

    The International Football Association Board met at Wembley yesterday to discuss the possibility of a trial after a request from world players’ union Fifpro and the World Leagues Forum to test the protocol in the Premier League, Ligue 1 and Major League Soccer.

    However, Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham, who supported the idea, said no consensus could be reached.

    ‘There were very strong and different views in the room, and we didn’t reach a consensus,’ he said. ‘We agreed it would remain under active review.’

    However, he conceded there was now no chance of a trial taking place next season. The focus, he said, was on improving the effective implementation of the permanent concussion substitute protocol.

    When asked whether a Premier League trial could still happen next season or had been pushed further away, he said: ‘It’s been pushed further away. I tabled it a year ago, I tabled it again today. There are different points of view and all have merit. I’m probably not the best person to give you both sides of the argument, but there won’t be IFAB support for a trial right now.’

    The permanent concussion substitute trial will instead continue indefinitely. Fifa conducted a survey of team doctors that had adopted the trial, and found 71 per cent supported the permanent concussion substitute model.

    Dr Adam White, head of brain health for the PFA, said the news is ‘extremely disappointing’. He added: ‘There’s a fundamental issue if player unions and leagues feel football’s lawmakers are holding them back from doing what they collectively agree is best to protect safety of players.’

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