SAINTS boss Ralph Hasenhuttl warned “it is tough to protect everybody” from suffering head injuries, as the Premier League announce they are introducing new guidelines for clubs. Heading guidelines for training in the professional and adult game are set to be in place for the start of next season. Speaking before the plans for two new studies were announced,
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl said “I know this topic. I was also a striker and made a lot of headers in my career and was also not happy that I knew that some cells in my mind will die maybe because of every header. I think we must protect especially the younger players. This is what I think the discussion is about. Once you are in the Premier League, I think it is tough to protect everybody, especially with the game getting quicker and more intense, the duels getting more intense. It’s a good thing that we take a little bit more care about fouls with the elbow, but a head against a head will always happen. You cannot avoid it. You can speak about wearing helmets or something, but I think it is difficult in the game. It’s tough, but sport is not always healthy. There are some other sports around where you also have a big risk of getting injured and I think we must be critical with what we can do, but the final solution cannot be that we stop heading. Otherwise the game is not the same as it is now.”
Quizzed on the in-game decisions to substitute players who may be suffering from head injuries, Hasenhuttl continued: “This is a topic that I was discussing very often with my medical group, that you have to protect players because they will never step off the pitch. That’s the reason why you have to take the decision.
Ralph Hasenhuttl said “We also had a situation last season where a player wanted to play and because of the protocol we went through, it was clear that he had a concussion. He was an important player for me and I really wanted him to play, but the doctor said no and I had to accept it and the player has to accept it because he has the responsibility for it.”
Discussing the Premier League’s new guidelines, David Allen, the executive director of Sports & Wellbeing Analytics, told the PA news agency: “No work has ever been done like this before in the world of football in terms of measuring the impact of the ball on the head.
Ralph Hasenhuttl said “It is ground-breaking research that we’re embarking on with the Premier League here. Hats off to the Premier League for saying ‘we’re going to be the ones to do it’ and hats off to Liverpool and City for being the ones to put their hands up and offering us up their players to do this study between now and the end of the season.”
Campaigners such as Dawn Astle and Chris Sutton have long called for a reduction in the amount of heading done in training at senior level, as a means to limit the risk to players of long-term brain injury. A working group made up of representatives from the Football Association, the Premier League, the EFL, the Women’s Super League, the Professional Footballers’ Association and the League Managers Association is responsible for drawing up the guidelines, and a statement from the English top flight on Friday confirmed they “are expected to be implemented ahead of the 2021-22 season”.
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