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UEFA’s concussion protocol facing scrutiny after Benjamin Pavard incident

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The way Pavard’s head injury was handled raised serious question marks over UEFA’s concussion protocols.

FBL-EURO-2020-2021-MATCH12-FRA-GER Photo by MATTHIAS HANGST/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

After the way the French medical staff handled Benjamin Pavard’s head injury during their 1-0 win over Germany from his collision with Robin Gosens, UEFA is now coming under intense scrutiny for not properly following their own concussion protocols (DW).

After the collision occurred, Pavard was only assessed for a few moments before exiting the pitch and then being allowed back on to finish the match. He’s since admitted that he was legitimately knocked unconscious for around 10-15 seconds immediately after Gosens’s leg made blunt contact with the side of his head, which was serious cause for concern, especially after what had happened with Denmark’s Christian Eriksen last weekend, collapsing on the pitch due to cardiac arrest.

Peter McGabe, who is chief executive of Headway, the brain injury charity, described the situation as “another example of football authorities failing to protect the short and long-term health of a player.” He continued by saying, “We have continuously been told that football’s concussion protocols are fit for purpose and that temporary concussion substitutes are not necessary. But…it is simply not credible to suggest that concussion could not be ‘suspected’ or a possible consequence of the impact.”

Of course, after Raul Jimenez’s concussion and fractured skull suffered via a nasty collision with Arsenal’s David Luiz, the Premier League in England introduced a concussion substitutes rule where teams could sub off players to be assessed for concussions, whether they’ve already made all their allowed subs or not. This is something that UEFA has not yet adopted, though all 24 nations participating in the Euros signed an agreement for a charter to take more serious measures to providing the proper care for players who experience concussions or had injuries on the pitch prior to the tournament kicking off.

Upon close inspection of the Pavard incident, McGabe said that he felt the referee was rushing France’s medical staff to get off of the pitch so that play could resume, though it is unclear at this point what specific communication there was between the middle official and France’s medical team.

Regardless, McGabe feels this just strengthened the call for a concussion substitute rule so that players and be thoroughly and properly assessed. “It appeared that the referee was attempting to speed up the medical team and usher them and the player off the pitch, rather than allowing them the time they needed to assess the seriousness of the injury. The way this incident was handled was sickening to watch. Why is it so hard for football to accept it has got this wrong and follow the example set by other sports by introducing temporary concussion substitutes? UEFA has to come out and immediately explain how it was allowed to happen and what action it will now take to ensure something similar does not occur in the future,” he said.

UEFA has already come out and said that they are going to investigate the incident to determine whether there should be a potential suspension for Gosens, though he seemed to be genuinely trying to get on the end of Joshua Kimmich’s cross. FIFPRO has also released a statement probing UEFA as to why they had not followed the concussion charter that was signed by all nations ahead of the tournament itself.

For Pavard’s sake, thankfully, he appears to be alright despite not receiving the proper treatment when the incident occurred. He trained with the rest of the French squad Wednesday and today as they prepare for their match against Hungary.