Soccer leagues, player unions team up on concussion protocol

Soccer leagues, player unions team up on concussion protocol

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 12:27 a.m. ET

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — European soccer leagues and player unions are teaming up to improve how concussions are identified and treated during games.

The European Leagues group and FIFPro, the global network of national unions, said Tuesday they will make country-by-country agreements "over the course of the coming two seasons."

European governing soccer body UEFA also wants better awareness of concussion after incidents in its games in March involving Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and Switzerland defender Fabian Schaer.

The campaigns come as soccer's rule-making body IFAB is being urged to explore the idea of temporary substitutes to replace players being assessed for a head injury.


"This is a critical issue for our players' long term wellbeing," said Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, general secretary of FIFPro's Europe division. "Other sports such as rugby or American football have been able to improve the management of and awareness for concussions significantly in their sports. Football needs to now follow suit."

European Leagues and FIFPro want domestic league rules to incorporate international standards of "concussion management procedures on the field as well as return to play protocols."

Team medical staff could get access to live broadcast footage to help identify injuries quickly.

Disciplinary measures are being considered "such as the requirement of further training and education." Pre-season training will be offered to teams, medical staff and referees.

European Leagues said its members will get more details at their annual meeting, in London on Oct. 18. The group includes 36 member leagues from 29 countries.

UEFA has asked for soccer's concussion rules to be discussed by IFAB's expert advisory panels which meet Oct. 23 in Zurich.

"The health of players is of utmost importance and I strongly believe that the current regulations on concussion need updating to protect both the players and the doctors," UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement.

The next annual meeting of IFAB, where the laws of soccer can be changed by FIFA and the four British soccer federations, is held Feb. 29 in Northern Ireland.