SAN FRANCISCO, January 10, (THEWILL) – The need for attention to head injuries in sports in general and football in particular was highlighted at the English FA Cup match between Manchester United and Watford played at Old Trafford on Saturday night.
Although, United triumphed by a goal to nil, the joy of the victory was overshadowed as Ivorian defender Eric Bailly had to come off with an injury on the cusp of the interval. The centre back was involved in a nasty collision with his goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who had charged out to punch a dangerous ball away. Henderson had inadvertently barged into Bailly’s head from behind and the latter went to the ground immediately.
There was palpable apprehension that the former Villarreal defender might have suffered a concussion. However, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer issued a positive injury update on Bailly after the game ended.
He allayed all fears of concussion explaining that Bailly only suffered a soreness in the neck, which United’s doctors considered enough to have the defender taken off for immediate medical attention. To confirm that it was nothing too serious, Bailly himself took to his Twitter account to let everyone know that it was all, in his own words “just a knock.”
The upbeat news of his condition is a welcome relief for the Red Devils. Bailly’s imperious form since his return from a lengthy injury layoff has helped to strengthen the core of United’s defense, which has been instrumental to their current good stretch of victories in the league.
Any sort of grave injuries like a concussion for the defender at this point would have meant another long spell on the sidelines, after surviving battle fitness problems since his arrival at Old Trafford from La Liga. With proper attention, the possibility remains that he can be called upon for the all-important, top of the table clash against Liverpool on Sunday, January 17.
However, what it points to is the very urgent need for further action on concussion in football. As reported by THEWILL on Saturday, after extensive consultation with key stakeholders and FIFA’s input, the protocols for concussion substitutes were approved at the Annual Business Meeting (ABM) of the International Football Association Board (IFAB).
These substitutions will be trialled alongside competition regulations and return-to-sport strategy outlined in the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT 5) at the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar beginning next month.
In England, concussion substitutions are coming soon as well. There are signs that teams will be allowed to use a maximum of one concussion substitute in a match regardless of the number of substitutes already used in a trial of the new procedure in subsequent rounds of the FA Cup.
This is a welcomed inclusion to the Substitutions Rules and will help to moderate the risks often involved in high contact sports like football.