Headway leads renewed calls for concussion substitutes after David Luiz plays on

Headway has reiterated its call for concussion substitutes to be introduced in football after the clash of heads between Raul Jimenez and David Luiz in Wolves’ victory over Arsenal.

The incident happened early in Sunday’s Premier League game and saw Wolves striker Jimenez taken to hospital with a fractured skull after receiving oxygen on the pitch.

Arsenal defender Luiz, though, was allowed to carry on playing after having his head bandaged before being substituted at half-time.

Arsenal’s David Luiz (left) returned to action with his head bandaged
Arsenal’s David Luiz (left) returned to action with his head bandaged

Headway, the brain injury association, expressed its “anger and disappointment at football’s continued failings to protect its players from concussion” in a statement and said its thoughts were with Jimenez and his family.

But it was Luiz’s continued participation in the match that was the big concern for Luke Griggs, Headway’s deputy chief executive.

Griggs said: “Too often in football we see players returning to the pitch having undergone a concussion assessment only to be withdrawn a few minutes later when it is clear that they are not fit to continue.

“That is the very reason why we urgently need temporary concussion substitutes in football. You simply cannot take a risk with head injuries. One further blow to the head when concussed could have serious consequences.

It’s estimated that a loss of consciousness is a factor in only around 10% of concussions. #IfInDoubtSitItOut

— Headway – the brain injury association (@HeadwayUK) November 29, 2020

“The question that has to be asked is, had the concussion substitutes rule been in place, would Luiz have been allowed to return to the field of play? Would that extra time in the treatment room have led to a different decision being made?

“The concussion protocol clearly states that ‘…anyone with a suspected concussion must be immediately removed from play’, while the sport continues to promote an ‘if in doubt, sit it out’ approach to head injuries.

“Time and time again we are seeing this rhetoric not being borne out by actions on the pitch. Something is not right. This cannot be allowed to continue. How many warnings does football need?”

Arsenal insisted the club followed all the protocols, with manager Mikel Arteta saying: “He responded really well to all of them. David wanted to continue but at half-time we decided to take him out because he wasn’t comfortable heading the ball.”

Jimenez is said by Wolves to be “comfortable” after undergoing an operation on his injury at a London hospital on Sunday night and will now begin a period of recovery.