The world’s biggest soccer body did not follow its own guidelines for assessing concussions at the 2014 World Cup, according to a new Canadian study.
Dr. Michael Cusimano, a neurosurgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, led a team of four researchers who reviewed video footage of all 64 matches, looking for any plays involving “head collision events” — defined as head contact after which a player did not immediately continue playing — and how they were handled.
‘We put a person’s health as a secondary issue.’
— Dr. Michael Cusimano, St. Michael’s Hospital
They looked for potential signs of concussion, such as if a player was slow to get up, seemed disoriented or was unconscious, if they had obvious problems with equilibrium, made seizure-like movements or clutched their head.
According to guidelines set in 2012 — by the International Conference on Concussion in Sports, of which FIFA is a key participant — players showing any sign of a concussion should be immediately taken off the pitch and assessed by sideline health-care personnel. Those guidelines were reaffirmed in 2016.
The team’s research, published Tuesday in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, found those guidelines were not followed in 63 per cent of the head collisions at the 2014 World Cup.
While 19 head injuries were reported by team doctors to FIFA, the study found a total of 81 head collisions in which:
- 14 players showed one or no signs of concussion.
- 45 players showed two signs.
- 22 players showed three or more signs.
Of the cases in which players showed two or more signs of concussion: 11 received a sideline assessment by health-care personnel and were sent back onto the field; 42 were assessed on the field by either a fellow player, referee or another official; and 11 received no assessment.
Just three were removed from the match.
In one cringe-inducing incident during the 2014 final,…