In the wake of the Hugo Lloris incident there has been plenty of discussion on how to possibly avert such a situation from happening again. In this particular case it is simple; if a player is knocked unconscious they are removed, no questions asked. The problem really is the minutia of the game, more explicitly the traditions of the game. Why not remove emotion and tradition and figure out a way to be better.
Because of this I am going to propose some changes for the international game of soccer. Being mindful that some places and medical staffs do it correctly – I do not intend to “pick” on any particular league (although my lack of soccer knowledge may be off-putting to some). There is no rooted soccer tradition in my family, nor do I even pretend to know all the history and because of that I feel that some of these ideas are void of fanaticism.
In order of importance;
- Allow for a medical substitution for head injuries (this can be both a temporary and/or permanent replacement for the fixture)
- After play is stopped for a head injury the team should immediately sub for that player; this gives the player less of an ability to fight to stay on the pitch. It will also allow the medical team to properly evaluate the player in an environment more fitting (locker room).
- If player cannot continue due to head injury then the sub stays permanent for the fixture. If the player is deemed fit, then a re-entry is given to the initially injured.
- This substitute would not count against the maximum of three subs/match, in either case above.
- In the event of multiple incidents of head injury then another medical substitution would be allowed.
- The referee would be in control of the above medical substitutions.
- All medical subs would be subject to FA review; as to prevent gamesmanship of the rule.
- This medical substitution would be for head injuries only.
- If a player shows signs of a concussion, i.e.: loss of consciousness, balance disturbance, vomiting, etc. that player is medically suspended for 7 days, and return to play could be longer if determined by team medical staff.
- This takes all questions and gamesmanship by the player out of it. There will be no doubt of the seriousness of the injury.
- This sets a good example for those watching that the FA takes head injuries seriously.
- If there was a foul that created the head injury, Yellow Card or Red Card, then the offending player will also be suspended for the duration of the medical suspension (7 days).
- Obviously in the Lloris incident there was no foul, it was purely an accident, and in those cases it is merely bad luck.
- There should be an independent medical provider (doctor, athletic trainer, etc.) that would be in charge of head injury evaluations – pitch side.
- This “evalulator”, would be sanctioned by the FA medical and would be assigned to each match like the officials.
- This person alone would determine if the player is fit to return through FA policy.
- The FA should sponsor/create a “viewing room” for trained medical spotters to watch matches and identify any possible instances of head injury.
- This “center” would have TV feeds of all the games and have people viewing games for incidents. In the case of a possible incident the head spotter would inform the “pitchside evalulator” who would then attempt to confirm if there is a need for intervention.
- In the case for intervention, the “pitchside evalulator” would notify officials to stop play for an evaluation and medical sub.
Certainly these are not the best ideas, but they are ideas none-the-less. I don’t feel they completely change the game of soccer, nor do they tactically change how a game is played. Rather the ideas above look out for player safety; which is the top concern of the FA.
I would love to hear any other ideas out there…