The Dangers of Football

The Dangers of Football

There has been call in for urgent research to be conducted with regard to the correlation between whether heading a football can cause the same damage suffered by heavyweight boxers.

A study by University of College London compared the post-mortem examinations of 5 professional football players and one 'committed' amateur. The continuing factor between all 6 participants were that they all suffered from dementia.

Evidence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was found in all 6 post-mortem examinations. CTE can be caused by repeated blows to the head and is also known to lead to the onset of dementia.

The research was led by Dr. Helen Ling and she noted that this was the first time that CTE had been reported in retired footballers. All the players examined within the research had the same pathology as boxers. It is therefore extremely pressing to consider how many retired footballers in fact suffer from dementia.

Nobby Stiles, Ray Wilson and Martin Peters, England 1966 legends all suffer from Alzheimer's which is thought to be linked to the heading of heavy leather footballs.

The cause of death of Former England Striker, Jeff Astle, who died in 2002, is also something that should be given great consideration. The coroner noted his cause of death to be 'industrial disease'. Further examination of his brain also revealed CTE. This is something that is often found in deceased boxers.

Studies have now raised awareness of the long-term damage that repeated impact to the brain can cause.

There is a clearly established duty of care with regard to participants who are injured during sport. The level of risk to sustain injury during a contact sport is of course both accepted and anticipated however there are basic standards that should be expected in any official sporting event.

However, where an inherent risk of injury has been identified, a sports body and team must, by law, take measures to see that this hazard is minimized.

Subsequently, the Football Association should have taken steps in 2002, following Jeff Astle's post-mortem examination results.

Therefore, there is a huge call within current sporting climates to fund improvements for future players safety in all sports, whether that be football or boxing. This can be evidence following the fight between Nick Blackwell and Chris Eubank Jr in 2016 which led to Blackwell suffering a bleed on the skull. The Football Association should look to the NFL for guidance. In 2015, a US-judge approved a class-action settlement between the NFL and a former American Football players who suffered repeat head trauma. The NFL paid out $1 billion in brain injury compensation to afflicted players and has also launched new initiatives.

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