'Concussion dangers ignored at WC'

LONDON - Fifpro, the world players’ union, has accused Fifa of failing to protect players during the World Cup over its treatment of concussion and said football is in the dark ages regarding the issue.

It warned of the potential for lawsuits worth hundreds of millions of dollars for those injured, following the final in which Germany’s Christoph Kramer was allowed to play on after a blow to the head, before being replaced.

Fifpro claims the problem will become a “tidal wave that will engulf” the Champions League and the domestic leagues of Europe in the new season, citing the knock suffered by Tottenham Hotspur’s Hugo Lloris when he collided with Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku in the Premier League in November. The goalkeeper played on after protesting to the club doctor.

Kramer suffered his injury in a collision with Argentina’s Ezequiel Garay in the 19th minute of Germany’s 1-0 win. The midfielder continued until the half-hour before being taken off when he appeared unsteady on his feet.

“I can’t remember that much from the game,” Kramer said. “I don’t know anything from the first half. I thought later that I went straight off after the incident. How I got to the changing rooms I do not know. I don’t know anything else. The game, in my head, starts only in the second half.”

This was the third incident at Brazil 2014 in which players continued despite taking a knock to the head.

In Uruguay’s 2-1 win over England in the group stage, Álvaro Pereira described his injury as like the “lights going out” when Raheem Sterling’s knee hit his head on 61 minutes. After arguing with the team physician, he was allowed to finish the game.

In Argentina’s semi-final win over Holland Javier Mascherano clashed heads with Georginio Wijnaldum but, again, finished the game.

Fifpro wants a protocol regarding concussion to become part of the rules and for Fifa to review the laws of the game to compensate a team if they go down to 10 men while a head injury is being assessed.

Andrew Orsatti, the Fifpro head of communications, told the Guardian: “The World Cup, being the pinnacle of football, has now become a showcase for how not to handle head injuries. Clearly this World Cup has elevated this discussion to a level that can no longer be ignored and the facts are irrefutable.”

Orsatti said Fifpro wants an “independently managed sideline concussion protocol”, pointing to the growing body of evidence that supports this and the experiences of other sports, in particular the NFL in the US.” – The Guardian

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