Concussion subs look set be introduced to football in 2021 after UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said that he feared Jan Vertonghen might die when he was sent back on to play after a blow to the head against Ajax in the Champions League semi-final.
Though tests showed club doctors were correct in their handling and followed the right procedures, the image of the Tottenham defender throwing up and stumbling after having resumed play alarmed many.
He was subsequently substituted in the game in April.
Ceferin sympathised with the Tottenham doctors and says that club medics have been put in an impossible situation by being asked to assess whether a player is concussed within minutes. He will now push for FIFA and the British football associations, who as the International Football Association Board decides on rule changes, to introduce a change in time for the 2020-21 season.
As in rugby union, football would allow a temporary sub to come on for 10 minutes to allow a doctor more time to complete a head injury assessment.
Ceferin said: ‘After Vertonghen’s situation I was scared that something would happen. Because it was clear when he came back that he didn’t feel well. He could die there. We will have discussions with FIFA about it to change the laws of the games. Assessment is easier [in 10 minutes]. Now it is crazy. And you can die because of that.’
UEFA will push for concussion subs to be on the IFAB agenda next year. ‘I don’t see it as a problem,’ said Ceferin. ‘FIFA is also interested in solving this issue. If something were to happen we would regret it forever.’
Though some have suggested clubs might seek cynically to exploit the temporary sub rule, Ceferin says any advantage would be minimal and is unimportant given players’ health is at stake. ‘What is more important?’ he said. ‘You have to do something. And if it helps one out of a million players, you did everything [you could]. The rule change wouldn’t influence the game, change the game or make it less interesting. Now it [the situation] will move. FIFA is very, very interested in this.’
The Mail on Sunday has been campaigning to raise awareness on concussion since 2014, which led to the Rugby Football Union introducing a mandatory online concussion awareness module for coaches, officials and players. The English Premiership has since become the first rugby competition in the world to introduce an instant video review system to spot potential concussions on the sidelines, a practice now adopted in football.Daily Mail