US soccer enforce ban on children’s headers

usa soccer

Photo by Charles Kerr / CC BY

By Jack Portley – reporter

The US Soccer Federation is set to introduce a ban meaning that children under the age of 10 will not be able to head the ball.

The ban is to be implemented due to growing numbers of concussions amongst children.

In addition to this, the rules covering all Major League Soccer academies and junior teams will see a limit being placed on children aged between 11 and 13 on how many times they head the ball in training.

It’s a saddening sight, with the USA in recent years becoming more of a force in international football and it is feared that they will not be taken as seriously as they have been in the last few years.

Another plan which is set to be introduced by US Soccer is temporary substitutions for players with suspected concussion, although the full details have still to be finalised.

.Players and parents filed a class action lawsuit in the US District Court of California against Fifa, US Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organisation concerning negligence in the treating and monitoring of head injuries.

This claim was later changed to a complaint solely against the US governing body after a judge ruled that there was no legal standing in the complaint against Fifa.

Whilst the Football Association has stopped short of implementing the same ban throughout English football, they have said they will continue to monitor research.

The FA revealed an independent expert panel would announce new guidelines “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 did point out that they will have no implications on the laws of the game which are set out by FIFA.

The national governing body did apply guidelines for professional matches last season that means team doctors have the final say on whether concussed players stay on the pitch or not.

As for youth football, no plans have been made.

In 2010, The New York Times reported that more concussions were suffered in high school football matches (50,000) than wrestling, baseball, basketball and softball combined.

New York Cosmos defender Hunter Freeman, who coaches at youth level as well, believes it is the technique they are being taught which is the problem.

He said: “Many of these kids are ducking from the ball, closing their eyes, they are heading with the top of their head not their forehead.

“They are young, they have a lot of time to develop, but to cut it out of the game completely is a bit odd.”

The FA added to their aforementioned statement that the decisions about how the game was played were for FIFA.

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