FIFPro, the international professional soccer players’ union, on Thursday accused world governing body FIFA of “playing with lives” by allowing players to return to the field despite showing signs of concussion. While FIFA guidelines say a player with signs of concussion should be withdrawn, FIFPro pointed out that several players have continued in games at the World Cup despite showing signs, and as such, the governing body is ignoring a "ticking time bomb."
The most recent example is Argentina midfielder Javier Mascherano, who appeared to suffer a concussion following a clash of heads in Wednesday’s semifinal against the Netherlands. The Barcelona man would go on to play the entire 120 minutes. Another example came earlier in the tournament, when Uruguay defender Alvaro Pereira continued to play after being knocked out by the knee of England’s Raheem Sterling even though team doctors were calling for his substitution.
"They have something on paper that's very pretty, but it's not enforced because it is only a guideline that is being enforced by team physicians,” FIFPro spokesman Andrew Orsatti tells The Times. "It is instructive in other sports that there has to be a clear separation to remove any potential vested interests where a team physician could be pressured by the clock or the manager to return a player too quickly.”
He added: "You cannot ignore that we are playing with lives based on the new evidence that has come to light. It is a ticking time bomb. ... Do we need something unbelievably drastic to occur before people wake up to the reality?"
FIFA, however, says that, “it is the responsibility of each team doctor and any support staff in their team whether or not a player can continue playing."