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U.S. Soccer Federation Has New Rules for Headers

Updated on: 11/19/2019

brain injury soccerSoccer isn’t generally thought of as a high-risk sport for head injuries. Hockey and football players are encouraged to ram into each other, but soccer is mostly about footwork, not brutal collisions. There’s one soccer move where players have to use their heads for more than strategy.

Headers, which require players to bounce a high-speed ball off their heads, will now be prohibited for players aged 10 and younger and limited for players at the ages of 11 to 13. This rule will be mandatory for U.S. Soccer national teams, and will be a recommendation for other soccer associations.

The Federation Hopes to Reduce Head Injuries

Although soccer was not initially believed to be a high-risk sport for concussions, evolving research has suggested that soccer players may be at risk for head injuries. Young players are at particularly high risk for the kind of cumulative trauma that can result from repeated impacts with a high-speed soccer ball. 

The U.S. Soccer Federation is also planning to change rules about substituting players. Previous policies limited the number of substitutions allowed in games with the intent of preventing coaches from sending in well-rested players late in the game, but this limitation discouraged players with suspected head injuries from leaving the field.

Lawsuits Lead to Safety Improvements

The new rules came about after a proposed class-action lawsuit was filed by parents and players against U.S. Soccer and others last year. According to the suit, almost 50,000 high school soccer players were concussed in 2010 alone. No financial damages were sought, only changes to the rules of the game that would better protect vulnerable players. Other parties named in the suit were FIFA and the American Youth Soccer organization.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of playing a sport, you may need to speak with a personal injury attorney. Even small concussions can have long-term consequences, with some victims reporting mood changes and difficulty with memory months or even years after an injury. 

Some of the most common types of cases that might benefit from hiring a lawyer include situations where a player has suffered some sort of head or brain injury and was allowed to continue playing the sport. These scenarios are both scary and risky due to the likelihood of further brain damage resulting from Second Impact Syndrome (SIS). 

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