Birmingham & Black Country

FA agrees study after Jeff Astle family meeting

Jeff Astle, the former West Bromwich Albion striker Image copyright PA
Image caption A coroner ruled Jeff Astle died from a brain condition connected with heading heavy footballs

The Football Association has agreed to carry out research into head injuries in the sport after meeting the family of former England striker Jeff Astle.

The West Bromwich Albion player died in 2002, aged 59, from a brain condition normally linked to boxing.

His family met FA chairman Greg Dyke on Sunday after a long-running campaign.

The coroner at the footballer's inquest ruled Astle's brain had been damaged by heading heavy leather footballs in the 1960s and 70s.

Daughter Dawn Astle said a study would now be carried out looking at former players and instances of dementia.

The Justice For Jeff group has previously called on the FA to carry out research into the risks of heading footballs and players suffering concussion.

The striker was originally thought to have died from Alzheimer's disease.

'No punches pulled'

Neurosurgeon Dr Willie Stewart, who carried out an examination of Astle's brain, also met Mr Dyke, alongside Astle's widow, Laraine, of Swadlincote, Derbyshire.

Dawn Astle described the meeting as "brilliant" and said the family finally felt as if they had been listened to.

"I didn't pull any punches," she said.

"I told him that we felt 12 years ago, when Dad's brain was examined, there was enough evidence for the FA to be considering 'have we got a problem here with our former players?'

"I said 'you didn't do anything, so me and my sister did.'"

Mr Dyke said the meeting was "constructive" and that the FA was working to address the "complex issue".

"We will keep in touch with family and have outlined our plans to look at what research is needed next and take the subject forward on a global level because, as we have seen in the recent World Cup, head injuries are not just prevalent in English football," he said.

The FA said it would now be working with partners including the Professional Footballers Association to establish the exact terms of the study.

The Premier League introduced new rules on how to deal with head injuries last week.

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