Soccer-UEFA asks for a change in concussion protocols

Credit: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

UEFA wants soccer's concussion guidelines to be reviewed to ease pressure on doctors and ensure that concussed players are not allowed to continue playing, it said on Wednesday following a series of worrying incidents.

By William Schomberg

BAKU, May 29 (Reuters) - UEFA wants soccer's concussion guidelines to be reviewedto ease pressure on doctors and ensure that concussed players are not allowed to continue playing, it said on Wednesday following a series of worrying incidents.

European soccer's ruling body said it would ask FIFA and the law-making body IFAB to "review the current concussion protocol and consider potential changes to the laws of the game".

At present, referees must stop the match in cases of suspected concussion to allow the examination of the injured player who can only return to the game with permission from the team doctor.

However, the world players' union FIFPRo says this does not go far enough. It wants players to be looked at by a neutral doctor and temporary substitutions to be allowed while the examination takes place, which would require a rule change.

"I strongly believe that the current regulations on concussion need updating to protect both the players and the doctors and to ensure appropriate diagnosis can be made without disadvantaging the teams affected," UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin told reporters.

In March, Olympique Lyonnais goalkeeper Anthony Lopes remained on the pitch for 11 minutes after receiving a blow on the head in the Champions League match against Barcelona. He was eventually substituted.

Days later, Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina was taken to hospital after collapsing during a Serie A match following an earlier clash of heads.

In another incident, Switzerland defender Fabian Schaer returned to the game after a clash of heads in a Euro qualifier in Georgia.

Schaer could not remember the collision,

"My skull is still humming. I’ve got neck ache and a bruise on my forehead but it was worth it," he said.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Ceferin said UEFA would continue to discuss the future of its flagship Champions League.

UEFA is working with the European Club Association (ECA), whose members include all of the continent’s biggest clubs, to redesign European competition from 2024.

"To be honest, at this moment nothing special is going on.....we will keep on discussing, we are planning," Ceferin said.

Representatives from European leagues who met UEFA this month said they were presented with a concrete proposal which involved allowing the top 24 teams in a 32-team Champions League to keep their places for the next season and only four places open to the winners of Europe’s 54 national leagues.

This would end the tradition that qualifying for European competition is achieved via national leagues.

(Writing by Brian Homewood, Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)

((brian.homewood@thomsonreuters.com; +44 207 542 7933; Reuters Messaging: brian.homewood.reuters.com@reuters.net; . Twitter @brianhomewood))

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