Home Sports PFA renews call for temporary concussion substitutes after Koch injury – The Athletic

PFA renews call for temporary concussion substitutes after Koch injury – The Athletic

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PFA renews call for temporary concussion substitutes after Koch injury – The Athletic

By Luke Bosher
21 February 2022Updated 11:16 AM GMT
8 Comments

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has renewed calls for temporary concussion substitutes following an injury suffered by Leeds United defender Robin Koch on Sunday.

Koch sustained a blow to the head in a collision with Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay in the 12th minute of Leeds’ 4-2 defeat. The German was assessed by physios before being bandaged and allowed to play on.

He then went down of his own accord less than 20 minutes later and was replaced by Junior Firpo. Leeds chose not to introduce Firpo as a concussion substitution, however.

The PFA has again criticised the current concussion substitution protocols after the incident, having previously said the system introduced by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in January has “fallen short of their objective and jeopardised player health and safety”.

In a statement on Monday morning, the PFA said: “The injury to Leeds United’s Robin Koch demonstrates again that the current concussion protocols within football are failing to prioritise player safety.

“The ‘if in doubt, sit them out’ protocol is not being applied consistently within the pressurised environment of elite competitive football.

“We see frequent incidents of players returning to play with a potential brain injury, only to be removed shortly afterwards once symptoms visibly worsen.”

The Premier League introduced permanent concussion substitutes as part of IFAB’s trial last February. There have been numerous incidents both this season and last of players continuing after a head injury, only to be later substituted.

“As the representative voice of players in England, we have been clear to the IFAB that we want to see the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes,” the PFA continued.

“Temporary concussion substitutes will allow medical teams additional time and an appropriate environment to make an initial assessment.

“Introducing temporary substitutes would allow a match to restart with neither side numerically disadvantaged, reducing pressure on players and medical teams to make quick decisions on whether an injured player continues.

“Put simply, the current rules set by the IFAB are not working, and players are being put at risk.”

Headway, the UK’s leading brain injury charity, has again been outspoken on the issue having heavily criticised permanent concussion substitutions in the past.

“Yet again we are left completely frustrated and confused by football’s approach to concussion,” said Luke Griggs, its deputy chief executive.

“Medics have a tough time when trying to make on-pitch concussion assessments. The game simply has to help them by implementing temporary concussion substitutes.

“It is hard to believe that if they had ten minutes to assess the player in the quiet confines of the dressing room that they would have come to the conclusion that he was fit to continue.”

(Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
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