The Westminster Chaplain for Sport has welcomed the Premier League’s plans to trial permanent concussion substitutes.
Mgr Vladimir Felzmann said he hopes the trial is successful and results in players suffering less harm. He also suggested that referees may benefit from medical update training on spotting the symptoms of concussion.
The league announced that clubs had formally agreed to adopt an initiative announced by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in December which will allow teams to make up to two permanent substitutions in the event of a confirmed or suspected concussion, as well as its three regular substitutions.
Welcoming the announcement, Mgr Felzmann stressed that it is better to be cautious in such situations.
“Thank goodness, not before time,” he told The Catholic Universe in response to the announcement. “Brain damage has been a scourge of footballers and though the ball is far lighter now than when I played in the 50s – especially on a rain sodden pitch – heads striking heads as two players rise to head the ball often does cause concussion.
“If even suspected, it’s better to err on the safe side and take the player off. The old fashioned machismo ‘I am fine. No worries’ needs to be kicked off the field,” he stressed.
“Refs might benefit from a medical update training on spotting the symptoms. I hope and pray the trial does the job and concussions do less harm.”
The trial comes as Wolves striker Raul Jiménez is still recovering from a fractured skull he suffered in a clash of heads with Arsenal defender David Luiz on 29th November.
It also follows the recent deaths of England’s 1966 World Cup winners Jack Charlton and Nobby Stiles following dementia diagnoses, as well as the dementia diagnosis of Sir Bobby Charlton.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has backed the move and called for the trial to be extended to all competitions in English football.
“The PFA welcomes the trial of permanent concussion substitutes,” said Ben Purkiss. PFA chairman.
“However, we would like to see this protocol implemented across all competitions, including the EFL (English Football League).
“In addition, we will continue to engage in discussions regarding temporary substitutions. Temporary replacements have been used successfully in other sports.
“It provides medical teams additional assessment time and reduces pressure on injured players to return to the field of play.”