Van Bas­ten throws his weight be­hind use of con­cus­sion sub­sti­tutes

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football - By Jeremy Wil­son CHIEF SPORTS RE­PORTER

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.

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