Van Basten throws his weight behind use of concussion substitutes
Marco van Basten has become one of football’s most prominent figures to indicate his support for the introduction of concussion substitutes ahead of a meeting of the International Football Association Board.
With Fifa and Uefa also increasingly enthusiastic about the idea, football’s rule-makers will explore the issue at a meeting next week in Zurich and could introduce a rule change next season.
Van Basten, who worked as Fifa technical director following his playing and managerial career, was in London for the launch of the Drake Foundation’s partnership with world players’ union Fifpro undertaking “the most comprehensive” ever study into the health of professional footballers. The London-based Drake Foundation is the founding funder of a new 10-year project that will track the mental, musculoskeletal, neurocognitive and cardiovascular health of players at the end of their careers.
Concerns over the risk of serious neurological disease among former players have been highlighted by The Telegraph and separate research, funded by the FA and PFA, is already exploring the prevalence of dementia among former footballers. Medics also want football to follow sports like rugby union in offering at least a 10-minute window during which players can be replaced and a longer assessment of head injuries can take place.
“If something happens, like what happened with Tottenham Hotspur and the Belgium guy [Jan Vertonghen in last year’s Champions League], you need 10 minutes to understand,” Van Basten said yesterday. “For these 10 minutes, maybe you should have the possibility to put a player on, or it is 10 against 11. We have to find a solution that the game continues [and] there is not really an advantage for one side or the other.”
The Drake/fifpro study will monitor the cartilage degeneration, mental health, neurocognitive decline and cardiovascular health of the footballers, aged between 27 and 29. They are based in Finland, England, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.