Doctors may soon be able to stop soccer matches and review instant replays to evaluate on-field collisions for potential concussions, under a proposal that could be approved next year. As the Associated Press reports, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), FIFA's rules organization, will meet in March to decide on the measure, amid heightened concerns over the dangers posed by head injuries.
Under a measure passed by FIFA in 2014, referees can stop matches for up to three minutes to evaluate on-field head injuries. But IFAB secretary Lukas Brud says that allowing doctors to see video of the collisions could help them identify dangerous collisions that may have been missed by referees.
"for medical purposes only"
"We have seen enough examples where potentially if the doctor was able to use video he might have made a decision not to put a player back on the field," Brud tells the AP.
There has been growing concern over on-field head injuries and concussions. A class action lawsuit filed in 2014 sought to force FIFA to limit headers for under-17 players and to change its concussion protocol, echoing health worries raised over youth football in the US. A California judge dismissed the case in 2015.
Soccer organizations have long been reluctant to allow the use of various technologies during matches. IFAB currently allows automated goal-line technology to determine whether a ball has crossed the line or not, though the organization is considering implementing systems that would allow officials to review goals and potential penalties. IFAB representatives say the replays reviewed by sideline doctors should be used for exclusively health-related reasons.
"We want to make sure whatever footage is allowed to be viewed is used for medical purposes only and there are no unintended consequences where footage is then being used for other purposes," Stewart Regan, head of the Scottish Football Association, tells the AP.