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Focus on Head Injuries in Soccer Escalates, After the Collision of Alvaro Pereira in the World Cup Uruguay V. England

After the recent World Cup game between Uruguay and England, the NFL is no longer alone in its concern over concussions. The FIFA may be forced to reconsider its traditional substitution rules in soccer because of the public outcry over returning Uruguay’s Alvaro Pereira back to the game without proper concussion evaluation after being knocked to the ground by a knee to the head. (AZCentral, Head injuries often overlooked in soccer, June 20, 2014)

Fans around the world watched Alvaro Pereira ‘s slide for the ball in the 61st minute of the Uruguay vs England World Cup game end when his head collided with an English player’s knee leaving Pereira prone and unresponsive on the field despite teammate’s attempt to revive him. Upon getting to his feet, Pereira woozily walked to the sidelines where he intercepted the team physician signaling to the coach for a substitution.

According to the New York Times, despite still struggling to retain his balance, Pereira angrily waggled his finger at the doctor silently communicating his intent to return to the game. Given the FIFA rule that a substituted player cannot later return to the game, Pereira was sent back to the pitch without a thorough concussion evaluation a mere two minutes after lying unconscious on the ground. The Uruguay coach’s only other option for Pereira’s continued participation, was to let the team play down one player for the duration of the medical evaluation. (‘Lights Went Out,’ but He Kept Playing, New York Times, June 20,2014).

Pereira’s insistence on returning to the pitch plunged the soccer world under further scrutiny for its lack of rules protecting injured players from their own adrenaline and image conscious fueled decisions as well as the over arching culture of soccer to ignore or minimize the advice of team physicians. (Football Trade Directory, World Cup 2014: FIFA urged to change rules over concussion after Uraguay star played on, June 21, 2014)

“Head injuries are often over looked in soccer,” says Frank N. Darras, America’s leading disability insurance attorney. “Public attention generally focuses on the traditionally more violent sports such as football and hockey. This lack of attention does not mean that head injuries or trauma related brain conditions in soccer are rare, far from it in fact.” Darras continues to explain that, “not only can frequent headers take a cumulative toll on a soccer player’s long term health, the always present risk of colliding with opposing players while chasing the ball lead to a high likelihood of career related injury making obtaining the appropriate disability insurance coverage a must.”

Disability insurance is just as essential in soccer as it is in football. Players and their families need to prepare for any eventuality and obtaining a disability insurance policy with good rates and competitive coverage is an important way to secure a player’s future against unforeseen traumatic events. When a tragedy occurs leaving a player injured with mounting hospital bills and a long recovery, a good insurance policy will allow them to continue paying for rent, food, health care, and other basic necessities of life, freeing them and their families to focus attention on healing and recovery rather than finding ways to make ends meet.”

Darras continues, “I’m not sure what the future of soccer holds. Perhaps the FIFA will reevaluate its policies and choose to increase protection to safeguard the continued health and safety of its players. I do know that in any eventuality, an athlete needs to have a good insurance policy protecting against disability or injury, regardless of the sport of the safety precautions taken.”

DarrasLaw is Americas' most honored and decorated disability litigation firm in the country. Mr. Darras has seen more, evaluated more, litigated more, and resolved more individual and group long term disability and long-term care cases than any other lawyer in the United States.

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