EXCLUSIVE: PFA calls for urgent action in reducing heading in training

EXCLUSIVE: PFA calls for urgent action in reducing heading of balls in training just days after Sportsmail launched campaign to tackle football’s dementia scandal

  • PFA’s call comes after Sportsmail began campaign on football dementia scandal
  • PFA chairman Ben Purkiss said that ‘an urgent intervention’ was necessary 
  • Chris Sutton, who has spearheaded Sportsmail’s campaign, welcomed the news

The Professional Footballers’ Association is calling for heading in training to be reduced and monitored.

On Tuesday, Sportsmail launched its seven-point campaign calling on football to immediately tackle its dementia scandal.

One of our demands was for clubs to limit heading at all levels including professional, with a maximum of 20 headers per training session and a minimum of 4 hours between sessions.

The PFA are calling for the heading of footballs in training to be reduced and monitored 

Chris Sutton, who has spearheaded Sportsmail’s campaign, has welcomed the developments

And the PFA has now called for urgent action on the matter. In a move welcomed by Chris Sutton, who has spearheaded our campaign, the players union has also called on the support of clubs, leagues and the Football Association ‘to create a co-ordinated strategy to measure, monitor and adapt training – identifying protections that can make a difference to the long-term health of players’.

‘This is really encouraging news,’ said Sutton, whose father Mike, a former player, is dying from dementia. ‘A really positive sign. There is a long way to go and there are lots of issues and a long road ahead, but this is a start. We’re delighted.’

The PFA say the call was agreed at a meeting of its management committee. They say a ‘game-wide’ strategy is needed after the FIELD study, carried out by Dr Willie Stewart who was also influential in the drafting of the Sportsmail campaign, found that footballers had 3.5 times the death rate from neurodegenerative conditions than the general population.

PFA chairman, Ben Purkiss said: ‘Science has been developing quickly in this area, and we need to make an urgent intervention based on the evidence that is available now. A reduction of heading in training is a practical and straightforward step. 

PFA Chairman Ben Purkiss said that ‘an urgent intervention’ was necessary in the game

‘We will be engaging with members, former members and their families to work on this area within the scope of the PFA’s new advisory group, where decisions will be made on the basis of expert advice.’

PFA Chief Executive, Gordon Taylor added: ‘On Wednesday, the PFA announced it would be setting up an advisory group to review and develop the way it responds to dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. 

‘They have approached Sutton to become a member of the group, along with Dawn Astle. Astle, daughter of England and West Brom striker Jeff who died from the illness, also supports our campaign.’

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