Why this story matters:
At the beginning of the year, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin promised the league would consider banning headers in youth football if their own research showed it could cause brain damage.
UEFA's decision to investigate the impact of heading in youth players had been prompted by a Telegraph Sport report about the predicament of football players suffering brain diseases, including several members of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team.
While the UEFA still has to make a move, Czech neurologists are unanimous.
In their opinion, heading causes irreversible damage to brain tissue, and they are urging schools to inform children and parents about the risks of heading, in the same way that tobacco companies have to feature hazard labels on cigarette packs.
Details from the story:
- Magnetic resonance images of the football players’ brains show clear degeneration of the frontal lobe of the brain, says Czech neurosurgeon Vladimir Benes.
- Czech doctors refer to several British studies that link heading with brain damages.
- British scientists carried out an autopsy on six deceased professional players who played for over 20 years and developed dementia after sixty. Four of them had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a form of brain damage usually found in boxers.
- The most dangerous move is to accelerate during a header, claims Czech neuropathologist Radoslav Matej.
- The US has already banned heading since 2015 for players under 10. Children from 10 to 13 are allowed heading while training but are banned from heading during the games.