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Fifa accused of ‘shocking’ complacency over head injuries amid calls for temporary concussion subs

Neco Williams player was floored by a stinging shot from Marcus Rashford at the World Cup but was initially allowed to play on

Pa Sport Staff
Tuesday 29 November 2022 22:13 GMT
Fifa World Cup: Results and reactions from day ten

Alan Shearer has called for the immediate introduction of temporary concussion substitutions after Wales defender Neco Williams was initially allowed to play on having suffered a head injury against England at the World Cup.

Full-back Williams was dazed and fell to the floor in the first half of the Group B game in Qatar after blocking a powerful Marcus Rashford shot with the top of his head.

The 21-year-old Nottingham Forest player received treatment on the field and then continued before eventually being replaced by Connor Roberts.

Brain injury charity Headway criticised the handling of the incident, while former England captain Shearer called on the International Football Association Board (Ifab) to enact prompt change.

“It has to come,” Shearer, speaking on BBC One, said of temporary subs.

“I would say to Ifab, ‘what on earth are you waiting for?’ because everyone is under pressure then to make a decision.

“You’ve got the doctors and the physios on the pitch trying to buy a little bit of time.

“If they were able to get him off for 10 minutes, assess him, bring someone on and then make their mind up there rather than be put under huge pressure on the pitch (it would be an improvement).

“What on earth, are Ifab waiting for? Do it now.”

Williams was assessed by medical staff at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium after being floored by Rashford’s powerful effort but, despite his discomfort, did not leave the pitch straight away.

There was also concussion controversy in England’s opening game of the tournament when Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand initially continued after a head-on collision with a team-mate.

A statement released by brain injury charity Headway during the match criticised the lack of action on the part of the game’s governing bodies to ensure players are properly protected.

“This is the second incident at this World Cup where a player’s brain health has not been prioritised,” it read.

“Medics are being forced to make snap judgements under pressure, which is resulting in players being allowed to stay on the field despite the assumed presence of at least some doubt over potential concussion.

“Fifa and Ifab’s refusal to introduce a temporary concussion substitute rule is causing undue risk to players. The rule is supposed to be ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ not ‘play on and see how it goes’.

“The longer Fifa and Ifab refuse to act, the less credibility they will have in any discussions about brain health in football.

“Their complacency when it comes to brain health is frankly shocking, it’s time to take control of this situation and look after the players.”

Additional reporting by PA

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