LONDON – Do the powers that be in football do enough about concussion? Or do we have to wait for a catastrophe before something changes?
After a clash of heads, Jan Vertonghen was down, blood pouring from his nose. He was assessed, medically cleared by the Tottenham team doctor, then allowed back on.
Moments later, he could barely stand up.
I have great sympathy with the doctor who had to treat him. He will have had the player saying he wants to continue. He had his headset on and will have had voices yelling in his ear for updates. He also has to answer to manager, Mauricio Pochettino. And then he has 60,000 fans shouting at him too.
The problem football is facing is that it is not possible for a club doctor to be totally objective.
Imagine you are the Barcelona team doctor, it is the Champions League final, and Lionel Messi goes down. Would you be brave enough to bring him off?
That is why football — and any sport when it comes to brain damage — must use independent, unbiased doctors. He or she must have the final say rather than current protocol, which sees club doctors decide.
There is a suggestion that a ‘temporary substitution’ could be introduced, but 10 minutes is nowhere near enough time to rule out concussion.
Ultimately, if there is any hint of concussion, the player must be taken off and must not return.