Hugo Lloris concussion: Assessment of head injuries can no longer be left to team doctors

The rules that allowed Lloris to continue playing after he was knocked unconscious are outdated and must be changed

Where science leads, rules must follow and the fact that Hugo Lloris stayed on the pitch on Sunday – with no laws being broken – shows the regulations are insufficient. The call, from the Professional Footballers’ Association, to introduce compulsory substitutions for players knocked unconscious must surely be right. What Sunday revealed was simply the rules operating in practice, with the club doctors in charge.

Premier League Rule O.9 states that a player with a head injury “shall not be allowed to resume playing or training (as the case may be) until he has been examined by a medical practitioner and declared fit to do so”. The Football Association’s medical regulations for this season make the same point. A player who has been treated for a head injury, according to point 2.7, “shall not be allowed to resume playing or training without the clearance of a qualified medical practitioner”.

Tottenham released their statement on Monday from head of medical services Wayne Diesel, saying the club medical team “were totally satisfied” with Lloris returning to play, their having conducted “the relevant tests and assessments”. That being the case, there was no compulsion for Spurs to withdraw Lloris, so they did not, using their last substitution to throw on Christian Eriksen instead.

However, there was a clear call yesterday for updated practice, with the PFA thoughtfully calling for the pressure to be taken away from club employees in the cases where a player has lost consciousness. The quicker that football moves on this issue, the better. Sports, generally, are more injury-conscious now than they have been in the past. Science is advancing and the responsibility is on the governing bodies to catch up.

Nowhere is this more problematic than in American football, where the National Football League has been embroiled in a crisis over mass concussions, which resulted in the league paying $765m (£480m) to former players and their families in an out-of-court settlement this summer.

This might sound like a heavy price or a generous deal but it was neither, representing less than 10 per cent of the NFL’s annual revenue of $9bn, and, crucially, saving the NFL the prospect of a drawn-out court case. That would have meant far more coming to light about what the NFL knew and when. The settlement also absolved the NFL of responsibility, claiming it “does not represent, and cannot be considered, an admission by the NFL of liability, or an admission that plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by football”.

This has come to prominence in recent years after discoveries about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurological degenerative disease found in increasing numbers of American football players after death, connected to other neuro-degenerative problems such as dementia or Parkinson’s.

The growing number of old American football players who have suffered from brain damage, thought to be because of repeated concussion – it is a condition also found in former boxers – have brought this issue to the public eye. So did the suicides of NFL legends Dave Duerson and Junior Seau, in 2011 and 2012 respectively, both from gunshot wounds to the chest – widely thought to be so that their brains could be examined post-mortem for evidence of CTE.

Of course in “our” code of football there is far less head-on-head contact. But understanding of brain damage is still evolving and football might be able to keep players safe, as well as avoiding a whole set of other problems, with a simple change.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Sport
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
football
News
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
video
Voices
Focus E15 Mothers led a protest to highlight the lack of affordable housing in London
voicesLondon’s housing crisis amounts to an abuse of human rights, says Grace Dent
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project