Taylor denies PFA 'asleep' on dementia scandal

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(Reuters) - The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) was not "asleep at the wheel" over links between heading, concussion and dementia, the organisation's outgoing chief executive Gordon Taylor said.

The issue of dementia in the professional game was highlighted by the October death of England's Nobby Stiles, who along with many of his 1966 World Cup-winning team mates, including Jack and Bobby Charlton, had been diagnosed with the condition.

Former Blackburn Rovers striker Chris Sutton, whose father Mike died in December after a battle with dementia, had accused Taylor of having "blood on his hands" for ignoring the issue.

Taylor, who appeared before the Department of Culture Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday to answer questions on dementia, said a lack of information had delayed the PFA's response.

"We've never been asleep on it," said Taylor, who has headed the players' body since 1981 but is due to leave at the end of the season.

"We were frustrated by the initial research. The data was not there in our own national health service. And that is a factor for you to consider.

"Sutton is one of those people I speak to in a civilised manner. He is offered help with regard to his father, who was a contemporary when I was playing, and he's also been offered to come in and see what we're doing, what we have done, and what we plan to do in the future."

Several Premier League managers have called for a ban on heading in training if research shows it leads to dementia, with the league last month saying it would launch two studies looking into the forces involved in heading footballs with new measures expected to be implemented ahead of next season.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)