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US goalkeeper Hope Solo tended to her teammate Morgan Brian, after her collision with Germany's Alexandra Popp in their World Cup semi-final match.
The injury arose from a free kick by Germany after both players contested the ball at the far post. Brian headed the ball only to be struck inadvertently from behind by Popp's head. The game was stopped 4 minutes and since neither player displayed signs of concussion they were allowed to return to the game.
This issue of head injury in football was also highlighted in the men’s World Cup in 2014, when there were numerous head injury incidents which led to FIFA's medical committee introducing new regulations to manage concussions. These include referees now being able to stop a match for 3 minutes to allow a team doctor to examine an injured player for concussion. Now it is the doctor and not the player who decides whether the player can return to play. However there is still conflict of interest in letting a team member decide whether a player should play on. There is enormous pressure for a player to play on even if it may put a player's health at risk, particularly in important games.
Whilst reaction to the collision has raised more questions about FIFA’s control of head injuries and whether an independent doctor should make the decision on whether a player can play on, teams appear reluctant for independent medical experts to make the call. ‘I have absolute faith and trust in our medical team to do the right thing,’ said Jill Ellis coach of the United States team. Silvia Neid, Germany's coach, said, ‘If the player says to our doctor she is well, and the doctor can look in her eyes and can verify that, then I don't know why we need a neutral physician.’
Football is in the spotlight again for the wrong reason and whilst the tougher controls on managing head injuries are an improvement, many are still calling for better protection with independent touch line doctors. If you or a loved one has suffered a head injury which was someone else’s fault and want to discuss it, please contact Andy Shaw or call on 0800 073 0988 to see how we can help you.
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