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UEFA wants concussion rule change to protect players

By JAMES ELLINGWORTHMay 29, 2019

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — UEFA said Wednesday it wants the rules of soccer changed to protect players from concussions, after its own policy for dealing with head injuries came in for criticism in the Champions League.

European soccer’s governing body wants doctors to have more time to assess head injuries so concussed players aren’t put back onto the field.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said there could be a change to the rules on substitutes. However, he didn’t say whether that could mean temporary replacements for players with head injuries — something world governing body FIFA has resisted.

“The health of players is of utmost importance and I strongly believe that the current regulations on concussion need updating to protect both the players and the doctors and to ensure appropriate diagnosis can be made without disadvantaging the teams affected,” he said.

Three-minute breaks in play are allowed for on-field checks under FIFA protocols drawn up in 2014.

UEFA’s own concussion policy was put under the spotlight last month when Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen tried to play on after a clash of heads in his team’s Champions League semifinal against Ajax.

Vertonghen lasted only 40 seconds before leaving the pitch again as he appeared on the verge of keeling over.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said a doctor had cleared him to return to play.

Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius played last year’s Champions League final after sustaining a concussion early in the second half, and made key errors which helped Real Madrid to win 3-1.

Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes was allowed to play on with a head injury in a Champions League last-16 game this season before he asked to be substituted. At international level, Switzerland’s Fabian Schaer assisted two goals after a clash of heads against Georgia in March, but team doctors then ruled him out of the next game.

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AP Sports Writer Graham Dunbar in Geneva contributed to this report.

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