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UK parliament launches inquiry into head injuries in sport

A UK parliamentary inquiry has been launched to establish the link between sport and long-term brain injuries.

UK parliament launches inquiry into head injuries in sport

Members of parliament from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee will call for witnesses to examine the long-standing issue in sport, which has once again been put under the spotlight after legal actions across football and rugby are being considered and launched.

A FIELD study carried out in 2019 found professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from a neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the population.

The inquiry has been launched following the deaths of members of the England 1966 World Cup winning side Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson, as well as the recent diagnosis of dementia to fellow team member Sir Bobby Charlton.

"We're going to take some evidence from players, from people who have taken part in elite-level sport, and also those who are medically trained, and governing bodies," said DCMS committee chair Julian Knight, speaking to Sky Sports News.

"We've got to ensure that protocols were followed in the past, but we've also got to ensure that the protocols that go forwards are the right ones, and we'll ensure that people don't suffer these injuries for taking part in the sport that they love.

"I want to know more about the topic, so do my colleagues on the committee, and we want to make fact-based recommendations to the government and also to sporting bodies."

In football, heading guidelines had been altered in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland to encourage coaches not to practice heading in training for children up to primary school age.

Concussion substitutes are also been trialled in the Premier League and FA Cup, to prevent players from staying on the pitch whilst suffering from a possibly concussion or head injury.

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: "Encouraging progress is being made in our understanding of head injuries in sports with the significant research that is under way.

"With the clear commitment to work together shown by all governing bodies and health professionals, I am confident we will make swift progress in improving the welfare of our present and future sports stars.

"Now is the time to form a coherent approach - to prevent the risk and potentially devastating impact of head injuries at elite and grassroots level, and protect the sports we love."

Author: Jake Wilkin