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
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.”