Heading the ball in soccer may be banned within the 10 years, says a former star forced to retire by a devastating skull injury

Mason

  • Heading the ball in soccer may not exist in a decade due to the risks, says a former Premier League star who was forced to retire with a devastating skull injury.
  • Ryan Mason fractured his skull during an aerial collision in January 2017, resulting in him having 14 metal plates inserted into his head.
  • A recent study also revealed soccer players are three and a half times more likely to die due to neurodegenerative disease than the average person.
  • "It wouldn't surprise me in 10 to 15 years if heading wasn't involved in the game," Mason told the BBC. "I'm not sure footballers are fully aware of the potential damage."
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Heading the ball in soccer may not exist in a decade due to the risks, says a former Premier League star who was forced to retire after suffering a devastating skull injury.

Ryan Mason fractured his skull during an aerial collision with Chelsea's Gary Cahill while playing for Hull City in January 2017.

The former England international had to have 14 metal plates inserted into his skull, held in place by 28 screws, after the incident, and recently told the Between The Lines podcast he came close to losing his life.

A study from the University of Glasgow in October 2019 revealed soccer players are three and a half times more likely to die due to neurodegenerative disease than the average person.

"It wouldn't surprise me in 10 to 15 years if heading wasn't involved in the game," Mason, 29, told the BBC. "The research and the momentum it's getting, I think it's probably going to open up a lot more stuff that becomes quite shocking.

Following the study, as well as recent spate of head injuries and ex-players revealing their struggles with dementia, the English Premier League has agreed to trial "concussion substitutions" as of January. This will allow teams to replace a player who suffers a head injury even if all of its substitutions have already been used.

Players who suffer head injuries will be assessed on the pitch by a team doctor, before a decision is then made to allow them to play on or substitute them permanently. 

The new rule is slightly different to that currently seen in rugby union, where players who suffer head injuries are taken off the field immediately and assessed by an independent doctor, while a temporary substitute is allowed on to replace them while a decision is made. 

Mason believes rugby has it right, and has urged soccer to follow suit.

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