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Sports stars meet with government over player welfare issues

Athletes from the world of sport met virtually with the government to discuss head injuries and propose improvements to player welfare.

Sports stars meet with government over player welfare issues

England cricket captain David Vaughan, former Tottenham football player Ryan Mason and former rugby union player Simon Shaw were amongst the group to meet with the government on Tuesday (February 2).

The government representative hosting the meeting was the secretary of state for Culture Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, alongside experts in dementia care and Dawn Astle, whose father, Jeff Astle, a former footballer for Notts County and West Brom, died of the disease himself, with the coroner ruling that he suffered a degenerative brain injury as a result of repeatedly heading the ball during his playing career.

Since his death in 2002, Dawn has campaigned for further research to be conducted into the issue, that is likely to effect many more football players throughout their lives.

Concussion has been at the forefront of discussions within the player care sector over the last few months, following the death of former Manchester United and England midfielder Nobby Stiles to dementia, as well as his teammate for both club and country, Sir Bobby Charlton, receiving a diagnosis for the disease.

The issue extends further than just football however. A group of rugby players are taking legal action against World Rugby, Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union over an alleged failure to protect them and other players from the risks of concussion. Among the group is Steve Thompson, how in the Rugby World Cup in 2003, yet reports being unable to taking part in much f the tournament.

Many studies have been carried out over the link between head injuries and neurodegenerative diseases in former sports athletes, with the most recent suggesting footballers are three and a half times more likely to die of a degenerative brain injury than the general public.

Following a resurgence in dismay from a series of studies, the government are taking action to ensure that sport is kept as safe as possible for those who take part in it. In Tuesday's summit, those who took part were suggested to work together to make recommendations before the second meeting later this month, which will also be attended by sports' governing bodies.

"I am grateful to players and campaigners for sharing their experiences and insights on concussion in today's meeting," started Dowden.

"I want us to work collaboratively to seize this moment on making sport safer. Today I heard calls for more research, better education, and the sharing of best practice across sports. It is in our collective interests to work together on this vital issue."

Author: Jake Wilkin