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FIFPRO doctor joins expert group on concussion

31 January 2020
FIFPRO Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vincent Gouttebarge has been appointed to an International Football Association Board (IFAB) expert group to study whether professional football rules should be changed to better protect players who suffer a concussion.

The IFAB has assembled the group of doctors, former referees and coaches to look at whether to bring in a specific rule for concussion, and bring football in line with rugby and ice hockey.

A series of high-profile incidents in FIFA World Cup and UEFA competitions since 2016 has highlighted the treatment of concussion in football. Club doctors have as little as three minutes to identify whether a player with a head injury is suffering from a concussion.

The remit of IFAB is to set the rules of professional football. It is made up of representatives from world governing body FIFA and U.K. football associations, the sport's first national governing bodies.

“I am pleased to be able to use my experience to represent FIFPRO and players around the world on IFAB’s concussion expert group,” Dr. Gouttebarge said. “We have a duty to provide the best possible medical care for footballers.”

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Dr. Gouttebarge, who as a professional player in the Dutch league suffered two concussions that were initially missed by club staff, has been pushing football authorities to introduce better concussion protocol since 2013.

A second blow to the head to a concussed player can result in long-term brain damage or death.

Dr. Gouttebarge has advocated for club doctors to have at least 10 minutes to assess whether a player has a concussion, with the possibility of a introducing a temporary substitute during this period.

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Vincent Gouttebarge playing in the Dutch league.

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