Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) calls for strict enforcement of A-League concussion rules.

Following a number of head and concussive injuries to A-League players, which have seen some remain on the field of play, Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) General Manager Adam Vivian today announced that the PFA will comprehensively review each incident to ensure the A-League’s new concussion rules are both adequate and strictly enforced.

The Football Federation Australia (FFA) Concussion Guidelines, developed by FFA in consultation with the PFA in the lead up to the current A-League season, set internationally recognised standards for the diagnosis and treatment of professional footballers who may have suffered a head or concussive injury.

They require:

  • Any player with a suspected concussion to be removed from the field of play
  • For the player to be diagnosed by a qualified medical practitioner by undertaking a clinical assessment. This should take several minutes
  • For the player not to return to play if he has suffered a concussive injury
  • For a graduated and supervised return to play program, which requires a minimum of six days rehabilitation and recovery.

The Minimum Medical Standards under the A-League Collective Bargaining Agreement require each club to have a specialist sports doctor, certified by the Australasian College of Sports Physicians, at each game.

They also require a player to stop any on-field activity (playing or training) if he suffers a condition that could be aggravated by continued performance.

“Concussion is a major player health and safety issue in professional football,” Vivian said.

“It is essential it is diagnosed with player welfare as the primary concern and without any regard to football considerations.

“A player is in a vulnerable state and in danger of suffering a very serious injury if returned to play whilst concussed.

“It is essential that A-League rules are effectively implemented to ensure that the immediate and proper diagnosis of a player and that, in the event of doubt, he is not returned to the game and substituted.

“Concussion is one area where the Laws of the Game are unhelpful.

“The PFA is in discussion with FIFPro, the world footballers’ association, to elevate negotiations with FIFA to ensure that players with a suspected concussion can be temporarily replaced to ensure a team is not disadvantaged whilst attending to a player in accordance with the prescribed standards.

“The PFA will also continue to work with FFA as we seek to ensure the safety of our members.”