SFA to ban heading in youth football following study that revealed links with dementia – The Scottish Sun

Posted: October 27, 2019 at 2:49 pm

This post was added by Alex Diaz-Granados

FOOTBALL chiefs are set to make Scotland the first country in Europe to ban heading in kids' games.

The SFA are ready to make the decision following the study that highlighted the links between football and dementia and motor neurone disease.



The US Soccer Federation were the first to outlaw heading in youth football - with a ban in place for all players under 12 years old.

And Scotland could be set to follow suit - with the SFA's president Rod Petrie set to submit proposals to the board.

After the revelations of the Glasgow University study, talks were reportedly held with chief exec Ian Maxwell.

An insider told the Daily Record: While the study says the findings cant automatically be applied to the grassroots game, theyre clear this shouldnt be a barrier to doing the right thing in the circumstances.

Its a clear statement of intent. It should have no obstacles to implementation.

Other potential measures include tighter guidelines on heading practice, ensuring age-appropriate ball sizes are being used, and guidance to grassroots coaches.

In the landmark study, experts at the university compared the causes of death of former footie stars with those of the general population.


It was found that ex-players had a neurodegenerative disease death rate around three and a half times higher than expected.

The risk of dying from Alzheimer's was found to be increased by five times for footballers, and by four times for motor neurone disease.

Dr Willie Stewart, honorary clinical associate Professor at the University of Glasgow, said: "This is the largest study to date looking in this detail at the incidence of neurodegenerative disease in any sport, not just professional footballers.

A strength of our study design is that we could look in detail at rates of different neurodegenerative disease subtypes.

"This analysis revealed that risk ranged from a 5-fold increase in Alzheimers disease, through an approximately 4 fold increase in motor neurone disease, to a 2 fold Parkinsons disease in former professional footballers compared to population controls.

The study found that while footballers were at greater risk from neurodegenerative disease, they were less likely to die of other common diseases, such as heart disease and some cancer.

An SFA spokesperson said: "The new presidential team are determined to be proactive on such a serious issue affecting the national game and are prepared to offer a practical test case in Europe through a range of potential measures being implemented in Scotland.

"While the study says the findings can't automatically be applied to the grassroots game, they are absolutely clear that practical improvements can be implemented until research into the grassroots game is undertaken.

"This is not just about young people heading the ball in matches but taking steps to reduce repetitive heading practice in training.

"We are fortunate to have a world leading medical team at the Scottish FA led by Dr John MacLean and his guidance will be integral domestically but also within UEFA's Medical Committee.

"Scotland's concussion protocols have been adopted throughout Europe by UEFA and the presidential team will do all they can to support his expert advice on the matter and continue to lead the way on this subject."

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SFA to ban heading in youth football following study that revealed links with dementia - The Scottish Sun

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