Scot­land to be­come first in Europe to ban chil­dren

Mea­sures could be put in place in the new year Two more ex-play­ers suf­fer­ing from de­men­tia

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football -


Scot­land ap­pears likely to be­come the first coun­try in Europe to ban chil­dren from head­ing a foot­ball dur­ing games fol­low­ing a re­port link­ing the sport to de­men­tia.

Scot­tish foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body is con­sid­er­ing the move af­ter ex­perts at the Univer­sity of Glas­gow found for­mer pro­fes­sional play­ers were 3½ times more likely to die of it than peo­ple of the same age in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

A ban on chil­dren un­der 12 head­ing the ball has been in place in the United States for five years.

The news emerged af­ter two more for­mer foot­ballers re­vealed they were suf­fer­ing from the con­di­tion. The fam­ily of Peter Cor­mack, the ex-hiber­nian and Liver­pool player, said they be­lieved his con­di­tion was linked to his play­ing days, while Ge­orge Reilly, who played in the 1984 FA Cup fi­nal for Wat­ford, said he had been left with­out any help from the game since be­ing di­ag­nosed.

The Scot­tish Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion is con­sid­er­ing op­tions and it is un­der­stood a ban could be in­tro­duced as early as the new year as part of pro­pos­als to safe­guard play­ers from de­vel­op­ing de­men­tia and other brain con­di­tions, in­clud­ing mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease.

Re­searchers looked at the med­i­cal records of more than 7,600 men who had played pro­fes­sion­ally in Scot­land and were born be­tween 1900 and 1976. Their records were then matched against more than 23,000 peo­ple from the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

A source told the Sun­day Mail: “While the study says the find­ings can’t au­to­mat­i­cally be ap­plied to the grass-roots game, they’re clear this shouldn’t be a bar­rier to do­ing the right thing in the cir­cum­stances. It’s a clear state­ment of in­tent. It should have no ob­sta­cles to im­ple­men­ta­tion.”

Rod Petrie, the SFA pres­i­dent, and Mike Mul­raney, the vice-pres­i­dent, are due to sub­mit pro­posed changes to the board af­ter seek­ing guid­ance from ex­perts.

A spokesman for the SFA said: “The board will give full con­sid­er­a­tion to the find­ings of the study and make any rec­om­men­da­tions for the ben­e­fit of the na­tional game in full co-op­er­a­tion with med­i­cal ex­perts.”

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