'Soccer moms' to sue Fifa over concussion risk to children playing football
Lawsuit aims to see a limit introduced on the number of times young players are allowed to head the ball
Friday 29 August 2014
A group of American families is suing football's governing body Fifa for putting children who head the ball at risk of concussion, according to a report.
The lawsuit, filed in California, accuses the sport's administrators of acting “carelessly and negligently”.
It is not seeking financial compensation, but wants to see a limit on the number of times young players are allowed to head the ball among a number of other rules designed to protect children, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Ben Pepper, a personal injury lawyer at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said the case might prompt people in the UK to consider legal action.
“Like so many things, England tends to go the way of America. Compensation claims are probably a long way off but the 'soccer moms' suing Fifa is a step in that direction. It only takes one claim from one mother for many more to come forward,” he said.
The Football Association and Premier League have issued new guidelines about concussion, which mean club doctors must make the final decision about whether a player with a head injury should return to the field, rather than the manager.
Mr Pepper said that schools might “start to revise their own procedures in line with the new FA rules”.
And if those rules were not followed “then parents might have a case” to sue over an injury.
Peter McCabe, chief executive of UK brain injury charity Headway, said the US legal action was part of attempts “to raise awareness of concussion in football, and this has to be welcomed”.
“The focus should remain on helping people at grassroots level to better identify concussion and act appropriately when a player suffers a head injury,” he said. “More also needs to be done to incite a cultural change in the game that will challenge the myth that you are being 'brave and courageous' by choosing to play on after sustaining a concussion.
”Grassroots players do not have the luxury of having doctors on standby should something go wrong, so it's vital that we make people aware of the risks.”
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