New concussion procedure

Following approval by the Executive Committee, UEFA is immediately introducing a new concussion procedure for all of its competitions as it underlines its commitment to player welfare.

Uruguay's Álvaro Pereira received a blow to the head during the World Cup game against England
Uruguay's Álvaro Pereira received a blow to the head during the World Cup game against England ©Getty Images

At its meeting in Nyon, the UEFA Executive Committee approved a new procedure to deal with concussions that will be implemented with immediate effect in UEFA competitions.

In the event of a suspected concussion, the referee stops the game for up to three minutes, to allow the injured player to be assessed by the team doctor. A player will only be allowed to continue playing on specific confirmation by the team doctor to the referee of the player's fitness to carry on.

The Executive Committee agreed that the following procedure be included in the relevant UEFA regulations as soon as possible:

"In the event of suspected concussion, the referee stops the game to allow the injured player to be assessed by the team doctor. In principle this should take no more than three minutes, unless a serious incident requires the player to be treated on the field of play or immobilised on the field for immediate transfer to hospital (e.g. spinal injury).

"A player suffering a head injury that requires assessment for potential concussion will only be allowed to continue playing after the assessment, on specific confirmation by the team doctor to the referee of the player's fitness to do so."

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino explained the rationale behind the decision. "We have to protect the health of players above everything," he said. "The Executive Committee has taken note of a report of the Medical Committee and has taken the decision that in cases of concussion in matches, the referee stops the game for three minutes to give the team doctor a chance to come and check the player, and analyse if the player is fit to resume the game or not."

He added: "And in the end, it will be the responsibility and the duty of the team doctor, and only the team doctor, to decide whether a player can get back on the pitch, and whether a player can play or whether a player can be substituted. It is very important to safeguard the health of the players, so this will be applied with immediate effect in all of our competitions."

UEFA Medical Committee chairman Dr Michel D'Hooghe welcomed the move: "The implementation of the concussion guidelines is a further step forward in UEFA's continued work to provide the optimum protection for players during matches, and to safeguard their health and welfare. I am delighted that the initiative has been agreed by the Executive Committee to become standard practice at all UEFA matches."

Another positive response to the new provisions came from UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina. “I am pleased the new procedure in case of concussion will be implemented this week, just a few days after it was approved by UEFA’s Executive Committee," he said. "In my opinion, the new procedure gives referees a clear view of who makes the final decision on whether a player can continue to play or has to leave the game - it is the team doctor and no-one else. I hope this will lead to improved health and safety of players overall.”

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