Time to kick out 'concussion'

2014-07-16 01:52:20 GMT2014-07-16 09:52:20(Beijing Time)  Global Times

Christoph Kramer should ­remember the World Cup final as the greatest day of his life. The Borussia Moenchengladbach midfielder was drafted in just before kickoff to make his first competitive start for Germany in a game that would end with them as world champions.

He doesn't remember it like that. In fact, there are parts of it that he doesn't remember at all. He took a knock to the jaw in a 19th-minute challenge with ­Argentina's Ezequiel ­Garay and, after prolonged ­medical treatment, was permitted to play on. However, he was ­clearly in no fit state to continue and was substituted just after the half-hour mark.

Millions at home saw a ­player leave the field that looked like he had no idea who he was, let alone where he was. Kramer has since said that he thought he came off immediately after the challenge and has no ­recollection of how he got to the changing room.

This incident is the latest at this World Cup to highlight how soccer is failing to properly deal with concussion.

Javier Mascherano took a blow to the head in the first half of Argentina's semifinal with the Netherlands but he too got up and was allowed to carry on. He managed to clear his head enough to deny Arjen Robben as the striker shaped to shoot in the last minute of normal time. He then played another 30 minutes in extra time.

Uruguay's Alvaro Pereira felt the full force of Raheem Sterling's knee with an hour of their match gone against England. His grogginess was clear to see to everyone watching on TV but he convinced the South American team's physician to let him carry on.

Something is clearly wrong. Players shouldn't be able to overrule medical professionals when their future well-being is at stake. Other sports, notably NFL football and boxing, which have had long-standing failures to acknowledge the potential long-term damage of head ­injuries, are now leading the way while soccer lags behind.

FIFPro, the world soccer players' union, has used these three incidents to start the conversation. They want the laws of the game to be changed to allow for proper sideline assessment of head injuries, substitutes ­allowed on while that treatment takes place, and an end to the prevailing attitude that a player is hero for playing on after a clash of heads.

These are big changes but who in their right mind would oppose them?

At Brazil 2014, FIFA have proved that they are willing to modernize the game. Goal-line technology and disappearing spray were unimaginable at the last World Cup but they are probably here to stay. Now's the time for the governing body to make a change for the real good of the game.

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Editor: Zhao Wei
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