Premier League and EFL footballers limited to just 10 ‘high-force’ headers per week

Long ball, cross, corner or free kick headers will be limited to just 10 per week in training for Premier League and EFL players, according to new guidelines for the coming season.

Sports post has called for head restrictions at all levels amid concerns over long-term neurodegenerative problems, with primary school children already banned from exercising completely.

The new guideline follows research, which has found that former footballers are more likely to die from neurodegenerative diseases than the general public and several studies on the impact of heading the ball.

According to the new rules, it is forbidden to go to training for professional players for the first time

Initial studies have shown that most racing takes place during training and that in many cases the forces involved are low.

But where the ball is crossed for attackers or defenders to attack, or if an air pass is made over 35 meters, the forces involved are greater and these headers are now limited.

“It is recommended that a maximum of 10 higher force headers be performed in each training week,” the Premier League said in a joint statement with the Football Association, EFL, Professional Footballers’ Association and League Managers’ Association.

A coroner found that former footballer Jeff Astle had died in 2002 of an 'industrial illness', which has to do with running a football for years during a career as the West Bromwich Albion forward.

A coroner found that former footballer Jeff Astle had died in 2002 of an ‘industrial illness’, which has to do with running a football for years during a career as the West Bromwich Albion forward.

STRONG CONNECTION BETWEEN HEAD AND BRAIN DISEASE

Neuropathologist Dr. Willie Stewart has determined that former players are 3.5 times more likely to die from neurodegenerative diseases than the general public.

The University of Glasgow academic told MPs earlier this year that while it will be difficult to demonstrate a direct causal link between the head of a football and suffering from dementia 40 years later, he said, “on a balance of probabilities, I think we’re there’ .

Members of parliament in the Digital, Cultural Media and Sport Selection Committee have conducted research into the link between sport and brain disease.

It has heard from pundits and campaigners, including Dawn Astle, the daughter of West Bromwich Albion attacker Jeff.

Jeff Astle Astle died at the age of 59 in 2002 of a degenerative brain disease resulting from heading the ball, and Dawn has been a tireless campaigner.

His daughter told MPs she had taken up the campaign on football and dementia after her father was badly abandoned.

“Football doesn’t want to think that football can be a killer. But I know it’s possible because it’s on my father’s death certificate,’ she said.

“I want to make sure that the affected players are well taken care of,” she added. “And I want to make sure that the game is safe for players now and in the future.

“This recommendation is made to protect the well-being of players and will be reviewed regularly as further research is done to better understand the impact of headers in football.”

Meanwhile, amateur players are told they can only head the ball 10 times per session with only one head practice session per week.

The guidance also recommends that clubs develop player profiles that take into account gender, age, playing position, number of headers per match and type of headers.

And clubs are expected to work closely with players to ensure they have time to recover from a match before being asked to head the ball in training.

It is not uncommon for some players to head the ball between 10 and 20 times in a top flight competition.

Meanwhile, amateur players are told they can only head the ball 10 times per session with only one head practice session per week.

It comes after Manchester City and Liverpool conducted a groundbreaking study into the risks of headers, using mouthguards that measured the trauma to players’ brains. After announcing the new restrictions on Wednesday, FA Chief Executive Mark Bullingham said they have ensured English football now has “the most comprehensive adult football guidelines anywhere”.

“(They) represent a cautious approach as we learn more,” he said. “We are committed to further medical research.”

Premier League chief Richard Masters added: “Our priority is to make the game as safe as possible for all players… this is a long-term job. We will now build on these studies and remain committed to further research to ensure we have the right approach to protect the well-being of all players.”

These recommendations apply to the English football pyramid and EFL boss Trevor Birch said: “Together we must do everything we can to ensure that heading is practiced safely and these protocols will provide us with a foundation on which to build the collective work of the game in this Surface.’

The players’ union, the PFA, was involved in the decision-making and their new chief Mehta Molango said the health and well-being of their ‘members’ is paramount.”

Dawn Astle, Jeff's daughter, has campaigned for limits on soccer player training

Dawn Astle, Jeff’s daughter, has campaigned for limits on soccer player training

MEPs, doctors and sports organizations are increasingly concerned about the link between sport and brain injury, examining the course but also the impact of a concussion

MEPs, doctors and sports organizations are increasingly concerned about the link between sport and brain injury, examining the course but also the impact of a concussion

“We hope that these first steps and enhanced protection will make a vital difference to the long-term health of players.”

But Molango stressed that this is only “a first step” and should be complemented by other measures, such as better support for retired players.

Richard Bevan, CEO of LMA, added: “This guidance is just the beginning and we need to continue investing as a game and developing quality research to better understand the risks and impact of in-game play.”

Former striker Chris Sutton fights for football to change his attitude towards dementia

Former striker Chris Sutton fights for football to change his attitude towards dementia

The guidance also identifies ways in which course techniques can still be practiced while reducing the forces involved.

According to football authorities, early evidence suggests lower forces are produced when a ball is thrown at a player rather than kicked, and when a player heads the ball from a standing jump rather than running towards the ball.

Mike Sutton became a professional footballer for his home side of Norwich City, as well as for Chester and Carlisle United before a knee injury ended his playing career at the age of 28.

Mike Sutton became a professional footballer for his home side of Norwich City, as well as for Chester and Carlisle United before a knee injury ended his playing career at the age of 28.

Premier League winner and Sports post columnist, Chris Sutton, is one of the most vocal advocates for restricted heading in training.

The former Blackburn Rovers, Celtic and Norwich City striker fell short when he met MPs from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport selection committee, who were gathering evidence on the link between sport and brain injury.

Sutton’s professional footballer, Mike, died on Boxing Day after a 10-year battle with dementia.

And the player turned expert has taken the lead Sportsmails research funding campaign, temporary concussion replacements, and limited training to protect players.

‘Fact is the FA and PFA [Professional Footballers’ Association] haven’t done nearly enough,” Sutton said. “They have ignored, shunned, turned their backs on a major problem.

Hundreds of players have died. My father among them. And we don’t even know what happened in the amateur game.

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