Soccer rules panel says no to new trials for concussion subs

The Washington Post

January 18, 2023

LONDON — Soccer’s law-making panel on Wednesday rejected a request by the Premier League and MLS for trials with temporary substitutes to replace players with suspected concussion.

The panel, known as IFAB, said “no consensus was reached” on the debate, with FIFA’s opposition proving a key barrier to change wanted by the leagues, who are supported by France’s Ligue 1 and the global players’ union FIFPRO.

The leagues and unions believe giving teams only the option of making a permanent substitution for a player with a head injury puts extra pressure on a team’s medical staff and can lead to rushed and unsafe assessments.

FIFPRO has pushed for better concussion protocols since the 2014 World Cup final, when Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer played on for about 15 minutes after a head injury while clearly seeming unfit to continue.

“The topic remains under active review, as does the agreement to introduce measures to improve the application of the protocols drawn up for permanent concussion substitutions,” the IFAB panel said after a meeting at Wembley Stadium in London.

The panel comprises FIFA and the four national soccer federations in Britain but the voting structure means the world governing body can block proposals.

In a separate decision Wednesday, IFAB finally relented to allowing public broadcast of match officials talking during video review of incidents.

Starting on Feb. 1 at the Club World Cup in Morocco, the panel said “referees’ live communication” during video review would be provided “both in the stadium and via broadcasters.”

IFAB said this would start a 12-month trial “in international competitions” though did not specify if this would include the Women’s World Cup which starts in July. The 32-team tournament is being played in Australia and New Zealand.

FIFA has developed VAR since 2016 though has been wary of revealing real-time discussions between match officials.

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