British lawmakers to hold inquiry into link between playing sports and long-term brain injury

A group of former professional rugby players including England's World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson are involved in a legal case against a number of governing bodies after being diagnosed with neurological conditions.

Agence France-Presse March 03, 2021 17:30:37 IST
British lawmakers to hold inquiry into link between playing sports and long-term brain injury

David Luiz pictured after a severe collision with Wolves striker Raul Jimenez. AP

London: British lawmakers are to hold an inquiry into the link between sport and long-term brain injury at a time of growing concern across rugby and football.

A group of former professional rugby players including England's World Cup-winning hooker Steve Thompson are involved in a legal case against a number of governing bodies after being diagnosed with neurological conditions.

England 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton has recently been diagnosed with dementia. Four other members of the side — Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson — were suffering with dementia at the time of their deaths.

A 2019 study carried out in Scotland found that professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from neurodegenerative disease compared with members of the general population.

MPs on the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee will call witnesses to examine the issue, starting from next week.

"We will look particularly at what role national governing bodies should be taking and their responsibilities to understand risks involved for players and what actions might be taken to mitigate them," said DCMS committee chairman Julian Knight.

"We're seeing a number of cases involving brain injury in sport likely to reach the doors of our law courts and we will also look at the implications for sport in the longer term of any successful legal claim."

The English Football Association last month announced it was commissioning new research into what causes an increased risk of dementia among professional players.

Concussion substitutes are being trialled in the Premier League and the FA Cup in a bid to ensure players are not left on the pitch with a suspected concussion to suffer damaging secondary impacts.

Football authorities in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland last year issued guidance banning heading in training for young children.

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