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FIFA Considering new Concussion Policy for Soccer Games

Update Date: Sep 24, 2014 12:21 PM EDT
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Over the past years, more research has found evidence that concussions are detrimental to brain health. In response to the potential dangers of playing with a concussion, FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, announced on Tuesday that it will consider mandating a break for concussion assessment during soccer games.

"The incidents at the World Cup have shown that the role of team doctors needs to be reinforced in order to ensure the correct management of potential cases of concussion in the heat of the competition," the committee said in a release. "The referee will only allow the injured party to continue playing with the [authorization] of the team doctor, who will have the final decision."

The proposed new policy would add a three-minute break to the game if a player is suspected of dealing with some kind of head trauma. During this break, the team's doctor will have time to assess the player for any symptoms of a concussion.

This policy was drafted after concerns arose regarding the dangers of playing after suffering a hit to the head during this summer's World Cup. In one of the games, Alvaro Pereira, who played for Uruguay, was allowed to continue to play after he was hit in the head by the knee of another player. In another game, German player, Christoph Kramer played for another 14 minutes after he collided with another player. Kramer had supposedly asked the referee if the game he was playing in was the final. Even though it he was correct about it being the final game, the fact that Kramer was allowed to play after he was so disoriented from the collision was concerning.

Concussions have mostly been linked to football players. However, any athlete can suffer from a concussion and therefore, all athletes should be treated with the same attention and care. In 2010, the Center for Injury Research and Policy reported that high school soccer players suffered from more head injuries than athletes in other sports, such as softball, wrestling, basketball and baseball.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines concussion as a "type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works." People who suffer from concussions are required to abstain from physical and mental work until the symptoms have subsided.

FIFA's proposal will be sent to the Executive Committee, which will decide whether or not the policy should be enforced.

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