Players Football Association and FIFPRO have issued a joint statement to the International Football Association Board (IFAB), calling for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutions.
Since the IFAB introduced permanent concussion substitutes in December 2020, there have been several incidents where the new rule have fallen short of the overall objective and put player health and safety at risk.
PFA and FIFPRO therefore are requesting an extension to the existing trial in order to test temporary concussion substitutions, which they have been supportive of for several years.
Both organisations however praised England’s FA and Premier League for introducing the permanent substitution, with West Ham’s Issa Dip becoming the first player to be replaced with a concussion substitution.
PFA and FIFPRO have however identified two cases where players would of been better protected with a temporary concussion substitution, with Diop and Sheffield United’s George Baldock named as the two players who suffered head injuries but continued to play after on-field assessments.
Both players were eventually replaced when it became clear that their head injuries were worse than initially suspected, with both incidents taking place in the Premier League.
PFA and FIFPRO consequently feel that those two incidents underlines their concern that permanent substitutions do not allow enough time for medical teams to assess players with suspected head injuries thoroughly when the match is broadcast globally which means further pressure on time.
The joint statement proceeded to clarify the belief of both parties that medical teams act in the interests of players, but aren’t supported by the rules and fear pressure on them to make quick medical decisions will be ‘amplified’ by the return of spectators in coming months.
It was also noted that players often try to continue playing but unaware of potential risks of further damage to their health and a possibility in onset of symptoms being delated.
Both parties therefore feels that temporary concussion substitutes will allow extra assessment time and decision making in an appropriate environment away from the pitch, whilst permitting the match to restart without neither team numerically disadvantaged.
PFA and FIFPRO concluded by pointing towards the successful use of temporary concussion substitutions in other sports like Rugby Union for example as reason for a change to be made.
FIFPRO also conducted a poll of 96 professional club doctors across England’s Premier League, France’s Ligue 1 and Belgium’s First Division A, with 83% of respondents in favour of temporary substitutes as part of future protocols surrounding concussions.
In the concluding paragraph of the joint statement, both PFA and FIFPRO iterated that safety and welfare of players is paramount and the sole priority, as they request that the IFAB explore an extension of the current 18-month trial to allow for temporary concussion subs by June 2021 at latest.