Temporary concussion substitutions could be introduced in football from as early as 2020, it has been revealed.
It comes after research found that repeated knocks to the head and untreated concussion can cause serious lifelong injuries, such as dementia.
Under the new rules, proposed by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), clubs will be allowed to temporarily replace players suspected of having suffered a concussion. If the concussed player is deemed unable to carry on by a medical specialist, the substitution will be made permanent.
IFAB said it is currently consulting with medical and legal experts to look into the viability of the proposal, which could be implemented in the EURO 2020 finals.
“The board will also continue the debate, which started during the advisory panel meeting in October, on concussion assessment – and management [of concussion] during matches at different levels of the game will be discussed,” it said.
Brain injury charity Headway has long campaigned for new concussion protocols in sport.
The effects of concussion can vary from minor to severe, and are most often accompanied by headaches, problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. If left unchecked, however, the most serious knocks to the head can result in permanent brain damage or even death.
Last year the charity called on sporting bodies to introduce temporary concussion substitutions that would allow for longer off-pitch assessments to be conducted.
“In addition, independent doctors with expertise in concussion and head injuries should make the ultimate decision as to whether or not a player is fit to continue,” said Luke Griggs of Headway.
“Not every head injury will result in a concussion. But allowing players to continue while showing clear signs of discomfort following a head injury is contrary to the ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ principle at the heart of all effective concussion protocols.”