01482 778 463
Client Focussed
No Win No Fee
Specialist Legal Teams
Hudgell Solicitors™ | Latest News | Alan Shearer documentary puts pressure on football to learn more about potential head injury risks in game

Alan Shearer documentary puts pressure on football to learn more about potential head injury risks in game

Footballers Headering


The BBC documentary ‘Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me’ proved a fascinating and though-provoking programme about the possible link between brain damage and football players repeatedly heading a ball throughout their careers.

In the documentary, Shearer spoke at length to the daughter of former West Brom star Jeff Astle, who died in 2002 of a degenerative brain disease, aged just 59. At the inquest into his death, the coroner said Astle had suffered from dementia, brought on by the repeated heading of a football.

Fifteen years on, Shearer investigated what the Football Association (FA), and the Football Players’ Association (PFA) had done to support further medical research since that date, and appeared disappointed to find we appear no closer to a definitive answer over the risk involved.

Shearer asked as many times in the documentary whether the matter of a potential link between heading footballs and brain injuries had been “swept under the carpet”.

Independent research showed footballers had suffered degenerative brain disease

Scottish neuropathologist Dr Willie Stewart, a man who supported Astle’s family (who established the Jeff Astle Foundation) in conducting research, also featured on the programme.

He agreed to examine Astle’s brain in post-mortem in 2014, and found him to have died from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive, degenerative brain disease found in individuals with a history of head injury, often as a result of multiple concussions.

Unfortunately, as was explained in the documentary, CTE is something that can only be diagnosed after death by post-mortem neuropathological analysis, and the number of footballers’ brains to have been examined is still minimal.

Earlier this year the findings of more research, funded at The University College London (UCL) by The Drake Foundation, a not for profit organisation committed to improving the understanding of concussion injuries in sport based on scientific research and insight, were revealed.

That research saw CTE found in four out of six former footballers’ when post-mortems were carried out (in the general population, there is a mere 12 per cent incidence of CTE.) The Drake Foundation has now pledged to commit a further £1m to research.

Other major sports have led the way in research and introducing changes

Pressure certainly now appears to be building on the FA and PFA to do more. In other sports, and other countries, positive examples are being set.

The catalyst for change in worldwide sport of course came in 2013, when the NFL reached a $765 million settlement agreement for former players over concussion-related brain injuries, agreeing to compensate victims, pay for medical exams and underwrite research.

It set the wheels in motion for all other sports to reassess their duty to player welfare at all ages.

Sports are now doing much more to protect players who suffer concussion, especially at professional levels.

The RFU (Rugby Union) has also introduced incremental contact rugby for six to 13-year-olds in 2015, and over a three-year period trialled a new exercise programme in schools and age-grade rugby which led to a reduction of overall injuries by 72 per cent, and the number of concussions by 59 per cent for players who completed the exercises at least three times a week.

Almost 1,000 clubs and coaches signed up to the ‘Activate’ programme, developed in conjunction with the University of Bath, following the extensive trial involving 40 schools and more than 2,500 14-18-year-olds.

The US Soccer Federation has stopped children under 10 from heading the ball, and the merits of a similar step in the UK is also being debated.

Shearer’s conclusion with regard to the FA and PFA’s involvement in this matter was that ‘Nowhere near enough research has been done so far,’ saying ‘there is enough money in football to fund research.”

He certainly seemed disappointed when PFA chief executive, Gordon Taylor admitted it had no idea how many of its 50,000 members had dementia, and confirmed that its last research around such injuries, back in 2001, was never brought to a conclusion.

Parliamentary inquiry a possibility as Jeff Astle Foundation demands more is done

The Jeff Astle Foundation has now called for a parliamentary inquiry into the Football Association, claiming it has ignored warnings over links between heading a ball and dementia.

One question which was not answered in the documentary was whether any recommendations were made by the coroner back in 2002 for further research to be carried out to protect other lives, something we commonly see at inquests in the modern day.

Shearer himself said “Nobody in football seems to want to know the scale of the problem, if indeed there is one’, and therein lies the key question which needs answering – is there a problem?

Football has certainly changed since Astle’s days of playing, when old leather footballs gained significantly in weight when they became wet. Has the modern ball done enough to lessen the impact? We don’t yet know.

There is certainly much more care and consideration about head injuries and the protection of players in the modern game.

So, with the commitment from the relevant bodies, and the required funding, can accurate data be collected to conclusively say whether former footballers do suffer disproportionately to others with neurodegenerative disease?

‘It’s about time we had a more definitive answer’, Shearer concluded.

That is a statement nobody can disagree with.

Picture Credit: Hull Daily Mail

No Comments

Leave a Reply

*Required

The Author

author image

Josie Robinson

Senior Solicitor, Clinical Negligence

jr@hudgellsolicitors.co.uk

Request a callback

Request A Callback

I am an existing client.










Or call us FREE on:

01482 778 463


trust pilottrustpilot startrustpilot startrustpilot startrustpilot startrustpilot star

The data you submit will only be used by Hudgell Solicitors and only for the purpose of dealing with your enquiry.
See full privacy policy.

Looking to see if you're eligible?

Get in touch for free legal advice

0808 159 7699

Call today to speak to an expert

OR
Start your claim

What Our Clients Think

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very helpful

"Listened too, great advice and feel rejuvenated by their response. Really helpful feedback and will… "

Mr Procter

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Great Service

"Hudgell Solicitors dealt with my case very quickly and effectively. The contact and communication was… "

Tracy

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Fantastic service

"Fantastic service, on the ball with everything and good outcome"

Hayley coleman

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very professional

"Very professional, took all the stress off my hands and very pleasant to deal with.… "

Steve

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Hudgsell’s were our insurers with…traffic accident in France - successful claim.

"Hudgsell’s were our insurers with regard to road traffic accidents occurring abroad, (France) we were… "

P. Nevitt

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Always honest with there appraisal and…

"Always honest with there appraisal and willing to listen"

Tim Edge/

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Made the whole holiday illness claim…

"Made the whole holiday illness claim stress free. Updates given regularly- overall a pleasure to… "

Kate

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

I was fortunate to find Hudgell…

"I was fortunate to find Hudgell Solicitors after having an official complaint upheld. After I… "

James Henderson

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Great service

"Great service. Kept informed at all times. Good results"

ROY NAYLOR

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very professional and pleasant…

"Very professional and pleasant solicitors .. kept me up to date and was very prompt… "

Julie

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Recommended!

"Friendly, Helpful, and fair. Would recommend Hudgells to anyone I know."

Paul

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Friendly professional service.

"Excellent service all way through."

Sakina begum

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Thrilled

"After not knowing what to do, hudgell have helped me thoroughly through the process and… "

Adam Shutt

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

helpful informative efficient and…

"helpful informative efficient and friendly these are all the qualities I found with the firm… "

Sharon Coultas

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

it took a long time but i definitely…

"it took a long time but i definitely got the result i wanted and deserved… "

Jan Mack

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

Very good efficient service

"Very good efficient service"

Amelia Jacobs

Rated 9.1 out of 10 based on 478 reviews

Powered by Trustpilot

Our offices

London

55 Fleet Street
EC4Y 1JU
DX 437 Chancery Lane

VIEW DETAILS

Hull

No 2 @ The Dock
46 Humber Street
HU1 1TU
DX 11923 Hull

VIEW DETAILS

Leeds

10 Park Place
Leeds
LS1 2RU
DX 744770 Leeds 19

VIEW DETAILS

Manchester

1 St Peter’s Square
Third Floor
Manchester
M2 3AE

 

VIEW DETAILS

© 2019 Hudgell Solicitors®. All Rights Reserved.

Hudgell Solicitors is a trading name of Neil Hudgell Limited | Director Dr. Neil Hudgell MA LLB (Hons) LLD | Registered in England No. 7078429 | Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority | SRA No. 521372 | VAT Registration No. 254 7802 90