Landmark study could help fight for compensation
Research gives victims important evidence and may trigger Nfl-style financial claims in UK
The University of Glasgow’s study is of huge significance in football’s longrunning history with brain injury. The fact that neurodegenerative disease was listed as the primary or contributory cause of death among so many former players is staggering. The links are known and football’s governing bodies have a responsibility to the players. If they do not now act, they will leave themselves vulnerable to legal claims.
The law is clear and football is no different to any other employeremployee relationship. If your employer knows of a risk that can be mitigated and takes no reasonable action to remedy it, you are looking at legal redress.
Compensation is calculated on the extent of injury and financial loss caused by the negligence. If it is someone in the middle of their career, injured because of failings that should have been prevented, you could be looking at compensation to cover loss of earnings, treatment, private care and adapted accommodation.
It is this knowledge of the risk which is critical. Football’s governing bodies cannot say, “We did not know, there were no statistics or research” and that is why this is a turning point. There are time limits on when you can sue someone. It would be important to consider what information was known, or ought to have been known, at the time. This would include evidence such as warnings from doctors.
On the basis of the overwhelming evidence, I do not think we are far off the situation in the United States where significant legal claims have been settled by the National Football League.
Nobody is saying any incidence of head injury is a legal claim. We accept there will be injuries – however, more needs to be done. Football can make further reasonable adjustments which would protect the authenticity of the sport. This could include reducing practising headers, and improving concussion protocols.
For this to work, any changes must be applied globally. For footballers, this is their job and they should be safeguarded.