By Kaleb Page
When it comes to the topic of concussions in sports the main sport in question is football. Rarely do you find discussion on concussions in any other sport and one rarely finds criticism thrown at other sports like one does with football. The time has come to look at the sport of soccer or fútbol, as a concerning area for concussions.
Recently in a match between Arsenal and Chelsea, Thibaut Courtois, who is a rising star at goalkeeper for Chelsea, fell victim to a blow that left him unconscious on the pitch. This blow resulted after a ball came in the box towards forward Alexis Sánchez of Arsenal and Courtois slid in to recover the ball before Sánchez could get a boot on the ball. The scene was a car- crash-like pile on the pitch that left Sánchez looking over a knocked out Courtois.
Doctors and training staff members came on to check out the star keeper and run what was said to be the Premier League’s standard for head injuries. Even though the guidelines were ran, there is one disturbing fact about what happened following this severe head injury.
For 14 minutes after the injury and testing, Courtois was allowed to play on. Yes, you read that right. The guy who was just lying on the ground unconscious after receiving a knee to the head was allowed to get up and play like nothing even happened. He was eventually taken out of the game, but that was after the fact that he played on for 14 minutes. Now if this happened in the game of football the uproar would be astounding and would almost guaranteed be the talk of sports for weeks on end. Yet when you turn on the television to SportsCenter, Fox Sports Tonight or even NBC Sports Network do you see the same outcry as if it was a sport like football? The resounding answer is no.
Taylor Twellman, who contributes on ESPN broadcasts for soccer, is a very outspoken member of the soccer community who has had his own battle with concussions in soccer. His own professional career was cut short by the mishandling of a concussion he received while playing. He recently looked at the mishandling of this concussion and the concussions in this sport over the years.
Even if you trace back to the World Cup this summer, Twellman was angered by the handling of concussions on the world’s biggest stage for soccer. Several players received concussions in various games, and yet they played on, or attempted to at least. This prompted a response from Twellman saying that, “It’s barbaric. The way FIFA has turned an eye to head injuries, it’s 1950s-ish.”
I could not agree more with Twellman and some of the others in the soccer community who have concern with the treatment and handling of head trauma in soccer. In this most recent development with a rising star like Courtois, it brings this issue to the forefront where it belongs just like it does with football concussions. In the end the question needs to be asked to FIFA and the respective leagues around the World: Do you care about your athletes’ well-being or are you going to continue to pretend like you care?