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The FA To Trial Removal Of Heading From U12 Football And Below

Rory O'Callaghan

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The FA To Trial Removal Of Heading From U12 Football And Below

The Football Association (FA) is reportedly planning to trial the removal of heading in U12 football and below.

The Athletic claim the trial has been granted approval by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body which governs the rules of the sport.

Should the trial prove to be successful, it is claimed that heading could be removed permanently from all age groups under the age of 12 in time for the start of the 2023-24 season.

The FA could permanently ban heading from U12 football and below from the start of the 2023-24 season (Image: Alamy)
The FA could permanently ban heading from U12 football and below from the start of the 2023-24 season (Image: Alamy)

The move comes after scientific studies found a link between playing football and developing dementia later in life.

The sport has also been linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain condition triggered by repeated blows to the head.

One study, conducted by Glasgow University, found that Scottish footballers born between 1900 and 1976 were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from dementia than the general population.

The study, which compared the deaths of 7,676 ex-players to 23,000 from the general population, was commissioned by the FA and the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and followed claims that former West Brom striker Jeff Astle died because of repeated head trauma.

A coroner had previously found that heading was responsible for the death of Astle - recording a verdict of "death by industrial disease" in 2002.

The FA introduced new guidance at the start of the 2021-22 season which aimed to reduce the amount the heading players practiced in training.

The FA introduced new guidance at the start of the 2021-22 season aimed to reduce the amount the heading in professional football (Image: Alamy)
The FA introduced new guidance at the start of the 2021-22 season aimed to reduce the amount the heading in professional football (Image: Alamy)

It limited professional players to 10 high-force headers, classified as those following a long pass of more than 35 metres or from crosses and set-pieces, in training per week.

Concussion substitutes were also introduced to the Premier League in February 2021.

The rules allow for teams to make two permanent concussion substitutes if players have head injuries and are deemed unfit to continue by qualified medics.

However, The Athletic claim the FA has no plans to follow in rugby's footsteps and change concussion regulations to ensure players are stood down for 12 days if they suffer a suspected brain injury.

Dawn Astle, who co-founded the Jeff Astle Foundation to help families of ex-footballers living with dementia, has repeatedly called on the sport's governing bodies to do more to protect players.

A coroner found that heading was responsible for the death of former West Bromwich Albion striker Jeff Astle (Image: Alamy)
A coroner found that heading was responsible for the death of former West Bromwich Albion striker Jeff Astle (Image: Alamy)

Speaking to GOAL earlier this year, Astle said she believed heading should be banned from all ages of football including professional level.

"It's a part of the game that's killing people," said Astle.

"I do think there will come a time, in 70-80 years when I'm dead and gone, when people will be sitting watching football saying: 'Did you know, 70 years ago they used to head it? How stupid's that? They found out it's killing all these players.'

"Will we ever find a causal link because as I said, the time between the exposure and the outcome is decades?

"I don't know; I'm not an expert or a scientist. But how can you justify something we know can be a killer?"

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Football, FA

Rory O'Callaghan
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