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PFA: Heading In Training Must Be Reduced

Heading In Training Must Be Reduced

Following a meeting of the PFA’s Management Committee yesterday, the player’s union is calling for heading in training to be reduced and monitored.

As part of plans around improved protection for current players, the Professional Footballers’ Association has said a game-wide strategy is urgently needed for dealing with dementia and neurodegenerative diseases in football.

In 2019, the PFA Charity-funded study, FIELD found that footballers had 3.5x the death rate from neurodegenerative conditions than the general population. While more research is needed to establish a causal link, we need proactive and practical interventions to give current players protection. 

With the information currently available, the PFA is supportive of a reduction of heading in training as a measure to potentially reduce long-term health risks. We are calling on the support of clubs, leagues and The FA to create a coordinated strategy to measure, monitor and adapt training, identifying protections that can make a difference to the long-term health of players.

PFA Chairman, Ben Purkiss said: ‘Science has been developing quickly in this area, and we need to make an urgent intervention based on the evidence that is available now. A reduction of heading in training is a practical and straightforward step. We will be engaging with members, former members and their families to work on this area within the scope of the PFA’s new advisory group, where decisions will be made on the basis of expert advice.’

PFA Chief Executive, Gordon Taylor said: ‘The PFA and PFA Charity will continue our commitment, alongside The FA, to fund research in this area. However, in the short-term, football cannot carry on as it is. There is a big issue here, and based on the increasing evidence available, it is clear we need to take immediate steps to monitor and reduce heading within training.’

In further efforts to increase protection and support for current and former players, this week the PFA and PFA Charity have announced their plan for an advisory group. The group has been established with the aim of listening to our members and their families, to help shape our responses to dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

The Professional Footballers’ Association, together with the PFA Charity, are in the process of inviting people with a range of expertise and experience in this area to join the group. The names of panel members will be released in due course.

Current players and family representatives for former players will be instrumental in leading the direction of the advisory group, supported by public advocates, PFA and PFA Charity reps, and with consultation from medical and industry experts.

PFA Charity Chairman, Brendon Batson said: ‘Our intention in setting up the group is to give a voice to the people who are most affected by dementia and other neurological diseases in football. We want to work closely with current players and the families of former players who know best what is needed in terms of support.’

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