#TheFIFA5 A Recap by Snedaker

Although the news of a concussion lawsuit is not really “new” anymore the fact that it was brought against FIFA was “earth-shattering” in terms of news.  Sure, the football leagues and even the NCAA have been targets, but for soccer to get the proverbial target painted on its back has really shook up the sporting world.  It was big enough news that it was in national sports casts and even was termed “breaking news” in corners of the world.

Perhaps the beginning of football season here in America has swept away most of its “front burner” power; it is mindful to take a look at what this law suit is all about.  Mind you, it is not your normal litigation.  Below is a wonderful recap of #TheFIFA5 suit being brought forth, submitted by Katherine Snedaker-Price (it appears on her blog pinkconcussions.com):

This summary is based on information posted on the Hagens Berman S Shapiro LLP website and is my unofficial review of the lawsuit I have hash tagged as #TheFIFA5. NOTE: I am not a lawyer, and am merely outlining the suit as I read it. I welcome comments and thoughts.

On August 27, 2014, a Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against FIFA, U.S. Youth Soccer Over Concussions made headlines. This lawsuit pits three mothers and two female college students vs FIFA, soccer’s worldwide governing body—the Fèdèration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)—and affiliated soccer organizations in the United States

  • US Soccer Federation
  • U.S. Youth Soccer + American Youth Soccer (over 3 US million child and adolescent soccer players)

Note: In 2013, FIFA reported $1.386 billion in revenue.  The 2014 World Cup brought FIFA $1.2 billion from U.S. broadcasters. This lawsuit states FIFA has failed to enact the policies and rules needed to protect soccer players. FIFA and the others mentioned…

  1. Failed to adopt effective policies to evaluate and manage concussions, at all levels of the game
  2. Lacked of effective policies poses a greater danger to women and children players, who may more vulnerable to traumatic and long-lasting brain injury
  3. Ignored medical community called for changes over a decade ago
  4. Ignored simple, best-practice guidelines, which have been updated three times since the initial international conference on concussions (FIFA even hosted)

FIFA has made progress… 

  1. With Concussion Marketing and policy materials, which tout a commitment to player safety
  2. By implemented policies to address other health threats (cardiac arrest and performance-enhancing drugs)
  3. Hosted 2012 concussion conference that updated concussion guidelines

This lawsuit demands FIFA and others mentioned…

  1. Implement up-to-date guidelines for detection of head injuries
  2. Implement up-to-date RTP after a concussion
  3. Regulation of heading by players under 17 years old
  4. Eliminate heading under 14 years old age groups
  5. Implement a rule change to permit substitution of players for medical evaluation purposes. (Currently, FIFA rules generally allow only three substitutions per game with no clear provision for head injuries. If an athlete bleeds, even from a scrape, removal is required, but no similar rule exists for concussions. FIFA provides no guidance on substitutions in youth games in the U.S.)
  6. Implement medical monitoring for soccer players who received head injuries in the past


What makes this suit unique is that there is no “monetary damage” being sought, rather changes within the governing bodies to bring them up to speed with what other leagues are doing.  I find this to be refreshing; make necessary changes.

As we all witnessed in the World Cup there were times when a player was overtly showing signs of concussion (either being knocked unconscious or stumbling after getting hammered by a player) and were merely ushered to the sideline and then let back on to play.  The two that stick out to me most where the Uruguay player being knocked out during play and let back on (although the team doctor was adamant that he not return).  The second being in the championship match where Christoph Kramer of Germany does not remember playing in the penultimate match.

Both of those examples are exactly why #TheFIFA5 suit exists.  Those cases don’t only happen at the highest level, they also happen at the lowest levels and seemingly nothing is being done about it.  Now, it would be extremely unfair of me to lump everyone into this category.  I know for a FACT that the high school association here in Illinois has directed officials for soccer to look for such incidents and make sure they do not happen on their field.  Then again, that organization also has protocols in place for such cases, that demand that medical personnel has to clear and in the event none is available they cannot return, period.

The problem is that FIFA, the governing body to which all soccer/futbol looks to does not practice what they preach.  Nor, are they demonstrative enough about such incidents.  Perhaps it can all be related to the tactical nature of the sport and the use of substitutions, a purist mentality if you will.  This is a common thread with all sports and the struggles with concussions: proactive or reactive.

I have even opined on the issue and presented a possible solution well before the World Cup, November of last year to be exact.

I fully understand the need for balance between “knee-jerk” responses and measured responses for changes in the way sports are played in the face of the concussion issue.  If you read here enough you know I am not for quick reactionary “band-aid” solutions.  But I am for well thought out proactive changes that happen faster than years.

#TheFIFA5 is a good eye-opener for soccer, and whether is amounts to anything more than media run it is good to know that people have an eye on that sport as well.  Concussion is not limited to football, or soccer, or hockey, or lacrosse; it has a place in every sport we play in an organized fashion or in our back yard.

To me it always boils down to this: the injury is not the massive issue – it will always occur – the issue that we must make strides in is the management of the injury.  Having high-profile players and games give examples of what not to do is the wrong message.

Get it right FIFA!

5 thoughts on “#TheFIFA5 A Recap by Snedaker

  1. SportsCAPP.com September 4, 2014 / 08:57


    Awesome Dustin – And I have collected some comments for a second post.

    Could you drop the “Price” out of the title?

    Thank you

    Katherine is my first name

    Price is my middle name and what old friends call me/lax coach days etc

    Snedaker is my last name

  2. SportsCAPP.com September 4, 2014 / 09:15

    Thanks Dustin!!!

    I sent it to my local soccer league where I cannot get a foot in the door.

  3. Paul Beatty September 4, 2014 / 10:23

    Dustin: Thanks for getting it! Again– injury is not the massive issue — management of the injury and PREVENTION of the injury should consume our time and energy. In OCT. of 2012 on this blog,I wrote an extensive article about “Dietary Concerns……. Unfortunately, few scientists and virtually no patients or parents have an understanding of manipulation of eicosanoids using EFA metabolites and nutritional co-factors. A few brain research centres in the USA are utilizing fish oils ( EPA/DHA) for head injury and trauma (PTSD/concussions) to make money and further careers. Unfortunately, Omega 3s are only a small part of the answer — as will be exposed at The International College of Integrative Medicine on Sept. 24 in Dearborne ,Michigan. You will recognize my name in the January,2014 ,Lipids Journal article by Prof. Brian Peskin entitled “Why Fish Oils Fail !”. I suggest any of your bloggers who really want to help people recover in half the time or faster and to prevent (reduce severity) in the future to either get in touch with me or start studying EFA metabolism,eicosanoid pathways and human physiology. Thank you Dustin for making clear –Patients First and then the process! efapaul

  4. From my perspective this lawsuit is not surprising.

    During 2011, with the exception of # 6), I posted the below info on Dustin’s The Concussion Blog.

    While in grad school I wrote a research paper pertaining to soccer entitled Soccer participation: Athletes at risk for concussions, and subsequently presented portions of this paper at the 1999 NY State Counseling Association’s Convention.

    While writing the paper I was amazed to uncover that during 1988 the American Academy of Pediatrics position re soccer was that it should be considered a contact or collision sport (Dyment et al, 1988). Concussion rates were beginning to be reported as being similar in football, hockey AND soccer.

    At that time I also located another paper entitles Goal Post Injuries in Soccer (Janda et al, 1995) that makes for interesting and informative reading.

    1- Although soccer is perceived as a relatively safe sport (Janda et al., 1995; Jordan et al., 1996), a review of soccer-related literature cautions that its participants are at risk of experiencing serious injury (e.g., concussion) (Barnes et al., 1998; Baroff, 1998; Brady, D., 1999; Tysvaer, 1991).

    In 1988, the safety and related risk aspect of soccer participation was also raised by the American Academy of Pediatrics; it was their position that soccer should be viewed as a contact or collision sport. The Academy’s policy statement also reported that similar concussion rates existed for football and soccer (Dyment et al., 1988).

    2- An emerging body of literature and single- case reports clearly suggests that participation in soccer places a player at risk for sustaining a concussion. Factors causing concussions during soccer participation are:

    (a) a head of one player colliding with a head of another player;

    (b) a collision with another player’s elbow, knee or foot;

    (c) contact with the ground or indoor wall; the collision with goal posts;

    (d) heading the ball struck by another player;

    (e) combinations of the above variables;

    (f) a blow to a non-head area of the body that creates a whiplash effect on the brain


    Brady, D. (1999, October). Soccer participation: Athletes at risk for sustaining a concussion. Paper presented at the New York State Counseling Association’s 33rd convention, Albany, NY.

    3- Concussion rates for college ice hockey and football, along with men’s and women’s soccer, were found to be comparable to previously documented concussion occurrences when the rate of concussions per thousand athletic exposures was analyzed. The following rates of concussions were found for each sport: ice hockey (.27); football (.25); men’s soccer (.25) and women’s soccer (.24) (Kelly& Rosenberg, 1998).

    4- Curtis (2000) portrayed the personal soccer related concussion experiences of a 16-year-old, high school athlete, Gillian Sawtell.

    ” The adolescent, a projected future star for her high school team, sustained

    2 concussions within 15 months period from 1999 to 2000. After experiencing the

    second concussion, Gillian was not medically able to return to soccer


    Headaches plagued her in the classroom and at home, sometimes producing tears

    and grimaces but always leaving her in excruciating discomfort. “I get a dull,

    constant pain every day,” she said. ” It’s sitting in my head, and that will start to

    throb behind my eyes,” Gillian was informed by attending medical staff that she

    sustained a concussion, and would probably suffer from migraine headaches for the

    remainder of her life. ”

    5- A more recent soccer story: Taylor Tweelman

    I suggest you read the online article entitled Concussions take toll in soccer too re professional soccer player Taylor Tweelman’s multiple concussions, and the eventual devastating and career ending effects of these concussions….

    Read more re Taylor Tweelman: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/grant_wahl/10/27/soccer.concussions/index.html#ixzz1XWKVeods

    6- Presently, if you Google soccer related concussions and women you will find significant material re the adverse effects of female concussions occuring in this sport. The link to one example is found below:

    espnW — Concussions derail promising soccer careers of …
    Oct 15, 2013 – In fact, the rate of concussions for females in college soccer is greater … He is also a consultant on concussion-related issues for the National …

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