The Scottish Football Association (SFA) is expected to be the first major European sporting body to ban children from heading footballs.
It comes after a study revealed that repeated heading of a football from an early age can cause severe and life-changing brain injuries in later life, such as dementia.
According to the research, published by the University of Glasgow, professional football players are “three and a half times” more likely to die of degenerative brain disease.
Individually, the research discovered there was a five-fold increase in the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a four-fold increase in motor neurone disease and a two-fold increase in Parkinson’s.
Commenting on the announcement, a spokesperson for the SFA said: “Given the study was undertaken using medical records from Scottish footballers, there is an additional onus on the national governing body in this country to take a responsible yet proportionate approach to the findings.”
Welcoming the move, Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway, the brain injury charity, said: “In light of the recent study undertaken by the University of Glasgow, which suggested that professional football players have a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases than the general public, there does seem to be merits in considering such a move.
“It is understandable that coaches and parents are looking for clarification on this issue. It is therefore vital that more research is conducted to fully understand what risks, if any, are linked to heading lightweight modern footballs.”
The USA imposed a similar ban on heading of the ball in 2015 in a bid to protect athletes.