The Iranian goalkeeper collided with a team-mate in the game against England and injured his head. He should continue playing for now – which brings back the issue of dealing with head injuries in football.
Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand collided with team-mate Majid Hosseini while trying to save an English free-kick. Beiranvand looked dazed, but after several minutes of treatment he continued to play.
A little later he was on the ground and indicated that he had to be replaced. His coach Carlos Queiroz said at the press conference after the game against England that Beiranvand was taken to hospital with a suspected “severe concussion” and a “broken nose”.
Keeping playing despite a possible concussion – it was exactly the scenario that is so often criticized in football.
Players’ unions are calling for temporary substitutions
Because continuing to play football with a concussion can, in the worst case, be life-threatening – namely if there is a second blow to the head afterwards.
“The second game of the World Cup already shows that the protocols for concussions are not sufficient”wrote Jonas Baer-Hoffmann, General Secretary of the international players’ union FIFPRO, on Twitter. “Beiranvand should have been taken to the dressing room immediately and given a proper examination. That’s why we’ve been pushing for temporary substitutions for concussion for years.”
Other player unions had also called for temporary changes in recent months. The idea: There is a substitute on the pitch while the possibly injured player is examined. In this way, the game could continue while reducing the time pressure on medical staff and players.
IFAB advocates permanent changes
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the authority in football that advises and decides the rules of the game. The guardians of the rules have been dealing with the issue, especially since 2020 – and have a different opinion than the unions. “Basically, we take the position that additional permanent substitutions are the way to go”said IFAB Managing Director Lukas Brud in an interview with the sports show.
The reason: In the case of concussions, some symptoms can appear later – after 30 minutes or even after 72 hours. The danger could be that a player who has switched back continues to play with an undetected concussion.
Test at the World Cup: Iran makes six changes
The IFAB is currently allowing an additional change if a concussion is suspected. FIFA is taking part in the test at the World Cup, and each team can make another change if the worst comes to the worst.
Iran ended up making six substitutions. The injured player was still in danger because he initially continued playing.
FIFA: “The team doctor has the last word”
The question remains: can the rules solve the problem at all? Culturally, too, it has to be established in football that a substitution is a heroic act, not continuing to play. According to the regulations, the team doctors are responsible for this.
FIFA’s World Cup rules prescribe a certain form of investigation if a concussion is suspected. The referees may interrupt for three minutes and may the player “Only allow play to continue with the permission of the team doctor”. The team doctor has the last word due to the examination, writes FIFA. “He can expressly prohibit a player from returning if he suspects a concussion.”