Premier League ‘disappointed’ by rejection of temporary concussion subs trial

The Premier League says it “cannot understand” why a trial of temporary concussion substitutes has not been approved by football’s lawmakers.

The International Football Association Board confirmed the decision to reject a trial in the Premier League, France’s Ligue 1 and Major League Soccer in the United States at its annual general meeting in London on Saturday.

A Premier League spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that a temporary concussion substitute trial was not approved considering all available scientific evidence and the overwhelming support from Premier League club doctors.

“While we note that a trial has not been dismissed, we cannot understand the basis for which it has not been approved and remain convinced it should go ahead at the earliest possible opportunity in the interests of player welfare.”

The Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association had written to the IFAB ahead of the AGM asking for it to reconsider its initial decision, taken at its annual business meeting in January. That request followed a similar one from the World Leagues Forum and world players’ union FIFPRO.

However, on Saturday, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said: “We have decided to put the health of the players at the top. We started a trial with permanent substitutions. We are still waiting to receive more data, more information.

“If there is a risk or feeling or possibility that there has been a concussion it’s better to take the player out, to take zero risk.”

The PA news agency understands WLF and FIFPRO will meet next week to assess the situation following the further rejection of the trial.

Supporters of temporary concussion subs say allowing medics more time to assess a player away from the pitch will pick up more concussions and reduce the risk of a concussed player being sent back out to play.

The PFA’s head of brain health Dr Adam White said: “We remain committed to improving how brain injuries are managed during games and will continue to work with leagues and player associations from across world football to push for measures that prioritise player safety.”

FIFA accepts rolling out education worldwide around protecting players from brain injury is a priority, with the global governing body keen to express it in those terms to underline the seriousness of it, rather than concussion. FIFA also wants to ensure the threshold is low for withdrawing a player with a suspected brain injury.

The temporary model, it argues, creates a risk of ‘false negatives’ where players are sent back on following the 10-minute assessment.