There is currently much debate about the impact of heading in football with research showing a strong link to causing dementia 

Credit: AFP

Uefa will push for an extra permanent substitute for concussion when they meet lawmakers next week. 

Europe’s governing body want the change in the rules as part of their steps to address the link between football and dementia. 

The extra sub is on the agenda for the meetings on Nov 23 between Uefa and the International Football Association Board (IFAB), who determine the laws of the game.

While Uefa is not part of IFAB, they have representatives on the football advisory panel in Luis Figo and Maxwell, along with Roberto Rosetti who is also on the technical advisory panel. The original request for the permanent sub was made in May 2019 and will be discussed again next week. 

Earlier this year Uefa said heading should be reduced in youth football. They also recommended neck-strengthening exercises to help protect young players.

The recommendations were included in the heading guidelines for young footballers, which were approved by Uefa following studies conducted at the University of Saarland in Germany and the Hampden Sports Clinic in Scotland.

Uefa’s overall aim was to “limit the header burden in youth football” and included guidelines on ball size, ball pressure and the suggestion of using foam balls for training drills. 

On the header “burden”, they asked to: “Reduce heading drills as far as possible, taking into consideration the heading exposure at matches. This is of particular importance for the younger players. 

“The objective to reduce headers during training and match play can be achieved by means of introducing different rule changes such as reducing the pitch size, player’s number, goal height etc. Coaches should be educated about the necessity to proceed gradually with heading drills through the different age groups.”

Their guidelines also added “it is noteworthy that girls are more prone to concussions and possibly also to header burden than boys”.

Former England captain Gary Lineker has called for an end to heading during training, saying: “There’s absolutely no reason to head the ball in training. I headed it a lot in my teenage years, which worries me, but very rarely after that as it seemed unwise. Only ever in games.”