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Head Injuries in Sport - Parents Sue FIFA over Concussions

By Principal Lawyer, Personal Injury - Serious Injuries

A Court case has recently started in California by a group of footballers and their parents.  The “soccer moms” case, which is being brought against world football’s governing body FIFA, seeks rule changes to enable more time for head injuries to be assessed during a game.

This comes after a U.S. study revealed that the brains of former footballers, rugby players and professional wrestlers showed signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) which is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma.

It is understood that hundreds of former sports players in the U.S. have developed CTE. In the past five years alone the National Football League (NFL) has paid out nearly £500 million in compensation to injured players as a result.

To date there are very few reported cases of CTE in the UK, the only professional footballer to be diagnosed with CTE in England is Jeff Astle who died in 2002 age 59.  In 2011 a schoolboy, Ben Robinson, died as a result of second impact syndrome, after he sustained two episodes of head trauma within a few minutes during the course of a school rugby game.   

According to statistics from FIFA 13% off all injuries sustained during World Cups involve the head and neck. Roughly one in seven of these injuries results in concussion.

This season the Football Association (FA) in England & Wales has introduced a change in the rules so that a player suffering a head injury must now leave the pitch. Club doctors are charged with deciding whether a player returns to the field of play after a blow to the head. 

The FA’s head of medical services has indicated that he believes that research is needed in order to explore the cause and consequences of head injuries sustained in the game. In addition there is to be an extra layer of assessment of players as part of their annual check-up, in order to enable their recovery time to be measured in the event that they suffer concussion.

Recently there have been calls for more research into the issue of head injury in sport. It seems that more work is needed in order to raise awareness of the problem and to ensure that players across sport are appropriately protected.

If players are allowed to continue playing after sustaining a head injury, there is potential for a compensation claim against the club and/or the referee for subjecting the player to a risk of further serious injury.

Sport injury claims for compensation are not straightforward and so it is important to seek specialist legal advice from a Solicitor with experience of sports injury claims.

Andrew Zajac is a Serious Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Cambridge.

98% of the personal injury claims that our Solicitors deal with are funded through a No Win, No Fee agreement. For a free consultation call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.

Slater and Gordon are a leading sport injury claims law firm with 1,450 staff and offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Milton Keynes, Merseyside, Bristol, Newcastle, Halifax, Wakefield, Derby, Cambridge & meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire.