UEFA must play a leading role in efforts to minimise the risk of head injuries in football by introducing concussion substitutes, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) said.
IFAB, the game’s rule-making body, gave the go-ahead for trials of permanent concussion substitutes in 2020, following which the Premier League and the Women’s Super League introduced the system in England last year.
However, the players union said European football’s governing body had not integrated concussion substitutes into major competitions like the Champions League, Europa League and Nations League.
“This situation needs to be addressed urgently,” Adam White, the head of the PFA’s dedicated Brain Health department, said in a statement.
“As a bare minimum UEFA, as one of football’s major bodies, must lead by example and introduce the available permanent concussion substitution rule. This an issue the PFA will be raising with UEFA directly.”
The union added that football authorities in England had to go a step further and introduce temporary concussion substitutions.
Under current protocols, players are assessed on the pitch and either cleared to play or substituted. Medical staff can take as long as they need but there is pressure to make decisions quickly.
The PFA wants a rule to be introduced where players could be taken off the pitch to undergo a proper assessment with a substitute coming on in their place. Should players clear the head injury assessment they would be able to return to action.
“Put simply, the current laws of the game are jeopardising player health and safety,” White said.
The PFA’s latest call comes after Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez suffered a head injury in an accidental collision with team mate Tyrone Mings in their Premier League defeat by Newcastle United at the weekend.
He received treatment before resuming the game but was substituted minutes later.