English Premiership

Premier League considers ban on heading for youths amid dementia fear

2019-10-31 09:10
Premier League ball
Official 2019/20 Premier League ball (Getty Image)

London - The Premier League has written to its clubs to tell them they are considering whether to ban some academy players from heading a football amid dementia fears.

According to British media reports on Wednesday, Premier League chiefs have emailed all 20 top-flight teams in the wake of a recent study into the link between football and dementia.

Last week, a report published and titled 'Football's Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk' found footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to suffer from degenerative brain conditions than the general population.

The research looked at 7,676 Scottish footballers born between 1900 and 1976 who were matched with 23,000 people from similar areas and backgrounds.

It led to the Scottish Football Association considering a ban on children under 12 heading the ball and former player Lenny Johnrose, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in March 2017, called for children aged 14 and under to be banned from heading.

The United States is the only country in the world which has a similar ban. Children aged 10 and under are not allowed to head the ball in games or practice, while there are limits placed in training sessions for 11-to-13 year olds.

In the wake of the study, led by consultant neuropathologist Dr Willie Stewart of Glasgow University, Premier League interim chief executive Richard Masters is looking into the latest findings to decide if any age groups should be banned from heading.

The FA's independently chaired medical and football advisory group does not yet believe there is enough evidence at this stage to make changes to the way modern-day football is played, at any level of the game.

It has reissued best practice coaching advice in youth football, which advises limiting repetitive heading practice and using age-appropriate balls and softer items like balloons or sponge balls. 

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