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Brain Injury Caused By Football

I love football. I always have. From watching my four brothers playing it, (wishing I was included) to supporting my own daughter playing it at grassroots level.

The start of the delayed UEFA Euro 2020 Championships has indeed been a lift, certainly to me, and I am sure all football lovers across Europe.

At the weekend the worldwide football community held its breath while we waited to hear news of Christian Erikson. Reports that his life was undoubtedly saved by the fast thinking of his captain, match officials and of course his team doctor and medical team.

This brings into sharp contrast what happened in Munich at the match between European Heavyweights France and Germany earlier this week.

The French defender Benjamin Pavard was involved in a collision with Germany’s Robin Gosens in the 58th minute of the match. He has since confirmed to French broadcasters BeIN Sports that “I was knocked out for 10 – 15 seconds. After that, it was better.”

The 24 teams at Euro 2020 have signed a “Concussion Charter” which commits to taking a series of steps to enhance the care of players and includes neurological testing along with a gradual return to play.

This does not seem to have been followed.

Currently, the England FA along with the Netherlands, Portugal, Japan and US have trialed using concussion substitutes. The FA have already produced a concussion guideline: “If in doubt sit them out”. Yet this basic guidance which is carried out at grassroots was not followed on the European stage.

In line with the FA guidelines anyone with a suspected concussion must be immediately removed from play. It can take days or weeks for the brain cells to return to the pre-injury condition. They must have physical and cognitive rest. There is also an increased risk in returning to play after sustaining a concussion before the brain has had a chance to recover.

Headway the UK wide charity that works to improve life after brain injury also campaigns for the removal of players after a head injury.

The Chief Executive of Headway, Mr Peter McCabe, has been vocal in condemning what happened on the pitch as sickening and I wholeheartedly agree with him.

It’s understood that UEFA has contacted the French Football Federation to find out why he was allowed to carry on playing.

I will be watching with interest to see if he is named for their next match against Hungary on Saturday in Budapest.