Soccer: A Change of Culture is Required

Soccer is not usually considered as a high-risk activity, particularly when it comes to concussion related issues. We have, however, seen a few episodes over the last days that deserve further comments.

1. 20th October 2013: Mathieu Flamini (Arsenal) suffers a concussion during the match vs. Norwich (View collision at 2:52)

Flamini was substituded straight away after being recognized by the medical staff and show clear symptoms of concussion (no loss of consciousness). He was out of the team until the game on Nov 10th.

Some further reading on this incident:
Daily mail news
2. 10th Nov 2013: Nemanja Vidic (Manchester Utd) is concussed on the Premier League game vs Arsenal.

He was released after the hit, and has been released from the hospital on Nov 11th. There’s not a specific plan for him to return to the pitch yet.

Some further reading on this incident:
Sky Sports
3. 3rd November 2013: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspurs) receives a big hit to his head from Romeu Lukaku’s (Everton FC) knee, during the Premier League game. The action results in a concussion for the Spur’s goalkeeper, including the temporary loss of consciousness.

This is the most controversial and relevant of the three actions, and the one that made us to prepare this post. Suffice it to say about the magnitude of the hit, that the Everton’s striker needed to be substituted.
The diagnosis of concussion was very clear, every hit that results in the loss of consciousness is a concussion. This is a fact internationally agreed by erveryone involved in concussion management. But the decision of the team manager was to send him back to play.
Obviously, this decision has been strongly criticised from different sectors. The French goalkeeper was put into an unacceptable risky situation.

Some further reading on this incident:
BBC Sports
Headway – The Brain Injury Association (UK)
In particular, the third case shows very clearly two aspects of sports culture that need a change, and those have been targeted by Smart Head Play since the beginning of our activities.

a) Change of the culture: staying in the pitch after a blow in the head as a “sign of bravery”. It’s only an indicative of poor knowledge of the concussion itself and its effects.
b) Lack of specific education and preparation throughout the sports world. If this is the way a concussion is managed in the highest level of professional soccer, how worse can it be in the grassroots soccer clubs.

Our educational programs encourage the sports professionals to put the precaution as a basic pillar on the management of concussion. When there is a suspicion, any symptom that reveals a possible concussion is suffered, the duty of the coaches, teammates, umpires and parents is to put the player out of the game.
Check our education website

In conclusion, we’d like to share two posts from The Concussion Blog about this alarming episode. Our organisation fully embraces the ideas exposed here:

* Tottenham Hotspurs… More Like Tottenham Hotmess
* Soccer (Football) Suggested Changes

Thanks for reading.