Robin Koch: The PFA is requesting temporary substitutes because concussion standards ‘fail to prioritize safety’

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Following the injury received by Leeds United’s Robin Koch in Sunday’s loss to Manchester United, the Professional Footballers’ Association claims that concussion protocols “are failing to prioritise player safety.”

Robin Koch: The PFA is requesting temporary substitutes because concussion standards 'fail to prioritize safety'
Robin Koch being escorted out after injury against Man UTD

Koch, 25, had a concussion after colliding with Scott McTominay.

The German was authorized to continue with his head wrapped before succumbing to concussion after 31 minutes.

The PFA renewed its plea for temporary substitutes to be introduced.

“Put simply, the present Ifab [International Football Association Board] rules are ineffective, putting players at risk,” the PFA stated, after previously calling for temporary substitutions in April 2021.

It noted that temporary concussion substitutes would provide medical teams with “extra time and an appropriate setting to conduct a first assessment,” alleviating pressure on afflicted athletes and medical personnel to “make snap choices.”

Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds manager, stated that the cut Koch received appeared to be more severe than the knock itself.

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“He has a cut in his head, and that is what disqualifies him or compels him to come off,” Bielsa explained.

Robin Koch: The PFA is requesting temporary substitutes because concussion standards 'fail to prioritize safety'

“So, if the cut is more severe than the knock, then I acted accordingly.”

In December 2020, the Ifab, football’s legislators, approved a trial for concussion substitutes, which was implemented in the Premier League and FA Cup tournaments.

The regulation allows for a permanent substitution to be made if a player sustains a head injury, regardless of the number of substitutes already employed by a team.

Dr Willie Stewart, a recognized expert on brain injuries, stated in March 2021 that the guidelines were a “shambles” and that temporary substitutes would be a safer choice.

When the PFA wrote to Ifab in April, it mentioned incidences last season involving West Ham’s Issa Diop and Sheffield United’s George Baldock, both of whom were allowed to continue playing suffering head injuries.

“The ‘if in doubt, sit them out’ policy is not being consistently used in the high-pressure environment of elite competitive football,” the PFA stated on Monday.

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“We frequently see players return to play after suffering a possible brain damage, only to be pulled shortly afterwards when symptoms dramatically deteriorate,” the statement added.

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“As the players’ representing body in England, we have made it quite plain to Ifab that we support the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes.”

Brain damage charitable organization Headway has repeated such comments, stating that they are “extremely irritated” by the situation and that the Premier League has to provide “immediate explanations” regarding its interpretation of the ‘if in doubt, sit them out’ procedure.

“Medics have a difficult time doing on-field concussion tests. The game just has to assist them by implementing temporary concussion substitutes,” Headway’s deputy chief executive Luke Griggs stated.

Robin Koch: The PFA is requesting temporary substitutes because concussion standards 'fail to prioritize safety'

“It’s difficult to think that if they were given ten minutes to assess the player in the calm confines of the dressing room, they would conclude that he was fit to continue.

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“Terry Butcher’s days of soldiering on with a bloodied bandage are over. We cannot continue to treat head injuries with a ‘patch them up and get them back out there’ mentality. Players must be safeguarded.”

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