Home nations FAs to discuss temporary concussion substitutes next week

The four UK football associations will meet next week in an effort to reach a united position on a temporary concussion substitute trial.

The PA news agency understands the English FA is very much in favour and has been co-ordinating the push for a trial to be approved, something which world players’ union FIFPRO and head injury campaigners have long lobbied for.

Next week’s summit is intended as an opportunity for the four associations to align on a position and get a protocol agreed before they attend the annual business meeting of the game’s lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board, at Wembley on January 18.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham will attend the IFAB annual business meeting at Wembley next week
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham will attend the IFAB annual business meeting at Wembley next week (Nick Potts/PA)

It is understood the Scottish FA is sympathetic to the issues surrounding the idea of such a trial and will enter discussions around it with an entirely open mind.

It is even possible a vote on a trial could take place at next week’s IFAB meeting, where the four associations and FIFA each hold one vote and a motion is passed by simple majority.

Final ratification could instead come at the IFAB annual general meeting in London in early March. The voting structure is different at the AGM, with each national association getting one vote and FIFA getting four votes, with a 75 per cent majority needed for a motion to be passed.

FIFPRO and the World Leagues Forum wrote to the IFAB last month calling for a temporary concussion substitute trial to take place in the next Premier League, Ligue 1 and Major League Soccer campaigns.

FIFPRO has long supported the idea of temporary concussion substitutes, because they allow more time for medics to assess the player suspected to have concussion.

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Its letter to IFAB last month, seen by the PA news agency, states: “In the case of a suspected concussion, it is well established by international scientific standards that a proper assessment requires more time than is currently available to medical staffs on the field of play; in addition, medical experts agree that this assessment should be conducted under quiet conditions.”

FIFPRO’s letter says current permanent concussion substitute protocols, following a shorter on-field assessment period, put “significant and unnecessary pressure on all those who have a stake in that decision”.

It added: “We do recognise that not all suspected concussions will successfully be determined during temporary substitution but we are convinced that the probability for better informed decision-making will significantly increase.”

It is understood England’s domestic leagues and the Professional Footballers’ Association are in ongoing discussions over how a temporary concussion substitute protocol, if approved, could be implemented.

The IFAB faced criticism from head injury campaigners when it decided against a temporary concussion substitute trial at its 2022 AGM in Doha in June.

Penny Watson, the wife of former England captain Dave Watson who is now living with dementia, accused IFAB of having a “blinkered view” on the subject at the time.

FIFA has been approached for comment.