FIFA's Approval To Have A Three-Minute Pause To Treat Concussions Is A Waste Of Time
FIFA was heavily criticized for not having a concussion protocol during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but that may change moving forward. According to their website, FIFA will approve a new policy this week that will allow officials to take a three-minute pause so that an injured player can receive medical attention. The new protocol will be applied by UEFA starting on Sept. 30 in the Champions League.
Don’t be fooled by today’s announcement from Sepp Blatter and the gang. FIFA still doesn’t give a shit about concussions. If you really think about it, how can three minutes help a concussed player? If you suffer a concussion, chances are you shouldn’t be cleared to play. Just ask former U.S. Men’s National Player and current ESPN reporter Taylor Twellman, who had his career cut short due to complications from a lengthy history of concussions. He’s now started ThinkTaylor.org, a foundation created to raise awareness on the issue. Twellman is always vocal on Twitter when it comes to head injuries.
In this year’s tournament, Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira took a knee to the temple, knocking him out cold in a win-or-go-home group match against Italy. He was stretchered off, argued with team medics and eventually fought his way back into the pitch. Another notable example came in the championship match, which likely triggered FIFA’s new policy. Christoph Kramer was so disoriented and confused after a collision with Nicola Rizzoli that he asked the referee whether he was playing in the World Cup final.
Athletes these days are bigger, faster and stronger, which is probably why head injuries have spiked recently. But make no mistake; this problem has lingered since the early days of competitive international soccer. FIFA’s announcement came on the day that New York Times reported that Brazilian soccer legend Bellini, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and died in March at the age of 83, also suffered from an advance case of CTE. It was the second known case of CTE in soccer. For those who don’t know, Bellini was the captain of Brazil’s first World Cup championship in 1958 and became famous for raising the Jules Rimet trophy over his head, one of the first players to celebrate a World Cup triumph in that manner. A statue was built outside of the iconic Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro to pay homage to that moment. Back then, the balls were hand-sewn and made out of leather, making the repeated blows to the head even more painful.
Part of what makes soccer so interesting is that there are no pauses and the game runs pretty smoothly, usually guaranteed to have you in and out in two hours. That’s a problem Major League Baseball is trying to fix at the moment – how to speed up the game. It seems as if soccer is trying to head the opposite direction. How many three-minute pauses should we expect, when players like Neymar are flopping after every contact. The officials will have to be extremely cut and dry with this, considering all the flopping that goes on in the sport. Who’s to say a team won’t strategically flop late in games in order to receiver a three-minute breather? I don't buy what FIFA is selling. They're slowing up the game for the sake of concussions, which is a noble cause if players who suffer a head injury during the game remain out. If not, then FIFA got it wrong – again.
[Photo via Getty]
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