US Soccer wants to ban heading for under-10 players

Kids heading footballs
US Soccer was accused of acting "carelessly and negligently" and failing to protect young players.

The United States Soccer Federation has outlined plans to stop children aged 10 and under heading footballs.

The plans resolve a concussion lawsuit filed against the federation by parents but US Soccer said it had planned to introduce a new safety campaign.

They also intend to limit the amount of heading in practice for children between the ages of 11 and 13.

"Although these are recommendations, they are based on the advice of the US Soccer medical committee," it said.

"Therefore US Soccer strongly urges that they be followed."

The lawsuit filed by young players and their parents in August 2014 accused governing bodies, including Fifa and the California Youth Soccer Association, of acting "carelessly and negligently" and failing to protect young players.

US Soccer said the reforms would also include "modifications to substitution rules in relation to concussions" and would be "requirements for players that are part of US Soccer's youth national teams and the development academy."

It added: "Protecting the health and safety of athletes and preventing injuries is critically important to US Soccer."

There has been previous criticism of football's attitude towards concussions but new rules have been brought in for Premier League matches after Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris continued playing after he lost consciousness.

Following those measures Dr Michael Grey, a leading neuroscientist from the University of Birmingham, said it was dangerous for children to head a football.

The Football Association offer no specific guidance for children heading footballs in England but said it had "noted the new rule changes outlined by US Soccer and will closely monitor any available new research in this area".

The FA also said it would shortly announce new guidelines formed by an independent expert panel "which look at how to identify, manage and treat suspected head injuries and to manage a player's safe return to play at all levels of football".

It added: "However, they do not relate to how football should be played - something which is governed by the laws of the game set out by Fifa as the world's governing body.

"In addition to this new guidance, the panel has been tasked to identify key research questions into the long-term effects of head injury or repeated concussion episodes on the brain. The FA will take these research questions to Fifa in due course."

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