The game’s lawmakers have been asked to explain why they rejected a request to trial temporary concussion substitutes in the Premier League and other competitions.
No consensus was reached on the request to stage a trial in the English, French and American top divisions when the International Football Association Board held its annual business meeting at Wembley last month, despite the four UK associations understood to be in favour.
The PA news agency has learned that the World Leagues Forum and world players’ union FIFPRO wrote to the IFAB’s secretary Lukas Brud on Monday asking for the specific grounds of that decision, and the minutes of the meeting at Wembley.
The WLF and FIFPRO released a statement following the ABM saying they would “further assess the situation” and “consider their options moving forward”.
Those options include pressing ahead with trials without approval, with Major League Soccer’s new season due to kick off on February 25, making a renewed attempt to get the trial approved at the IFAB annual general meeting next month, to take the matter to court or to accept the IFAB’s decision.
Dr Adam White, the head of brain health at the Professional Footballers’ Association, said at the time of the meeting: “There is a fundamental issue if player unions and leagues feel football’s lawmakers are holding them back from doing what they collectively agree is best to protect the safety of players.
“The next step will be for unions and leagues to discuss what this means and what options are available to them.
Penny Watson, the wife of former England captain Dave Watson who is now living with dementia, told PA on January 18: “I am absolutely seething and dumbfounded. I just cannot understand how that decision came about because I do know certain evidence and lobbying has been put before them.
“I just cannot understand the negative side of things or what their thinking is behind not approving this. There is nothing to lose. It is just crazy.”
Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the Football Association which led international efforts to support a trial, said last month that temporary concussion trials would remain under “active review”, but when asked whether a Premier League trial could still happen next season or had been pushed further away, added: “It’s been pushed further away.
“I tabled it a year ago, I tabled it again today. There are different points of view and they all have merit. I’m probably not the best person to give you both sides of the argument, but there won’t be IFAB support for a trial right now.”
The permanent concussion substitute trial will instead continue indefinitely. FIFA conducted a survey of team doctors that had adopted the trial, and found that 71 per cent supported the permanent concussion substitute model.
The IFAB published the agenda for its AGM on March 4 later on Wednesday, which made no mention of any further discussion around temporary concussion substitutes.
Instead, it stated: “The AGM will receive an update on the ongoing global trial with additional permanent concussion substitutes and will discuss other matters related to player health and safety.”