On Monday, U.S. Soccer announced new initiatives aimed at improving safety with respect to head injuries in soccer. The policy sets strict limits on youth players heading the ball. These initiatives come in response to and serve as a resolution to a proposed class-action lawsuit filed against U.S. Soccer in August of 2014.
U.S. Soccer has made the new regulations regarding heading of the ball mandatory for all youth national teams and academies, including Major League Soccer youth teams, but can only offer recommendations for other soccer associations and programs outside of their direct control. Under the policy, players younger than 10 years of age will be prohibited from heading, while players age 11 to 13 will reduce head usage during practice.
“What we’re establishing is creating parameters and guidelines with regards to the amount of exposure to potential head injuries”, George Chiampas, U.S. Soccer’s chief medical officer, said in a conference call with reporters. He added that the science on concussions and youth soccer was still evolving, and so would U.S. Soccer’s policies.
Included in the new changes are proposed modifications to the substitution rules regarding players suspected of suffering from a concussion. The English Premier League has instituted concussion protocols that may serve as a reference point, but the full details on U.S. Soccer’s policy changes will be announced in the next 30 days. Currently, the official FIFA Laws of the Game only allow for three substitutions per game at the senior level, and have no provision for temporary substitutions, or other alternatives in the event a player is suspected of being concussed during a match.
What do you think about U.S. Soccer’s new safety initiatives? Will removing heading from youth teams will impact player development? Let us know in the comments below