Latest World Cup Head Injury Shows FIFA Really, Really Doesn’t Care About Concussions

Slate's soccer blog.
July 13 2014 4:05 PM

Latest World Cup Head Injury Shows FIFA Really, Really Doesn’t Care About Concussions

Christoph Kramer
Germany's midfielder Christoph Kramer is helped from the field during the World Cup final.

Photo by CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images

In a tournament that didn’t need another symbol of FIFA’s lax attitude toward concussions, we have the best evidence yet that the governing body needs to change its policies right now. In the 17th minute of the World Cup final, Germany’s Christoph Kramer was struck inadvertently on the left side of his head and fell to the ground in clear distress.

He stayed in the game for roughly 15 more minutes after that brutal knock to the skull, and was clearly suffering the effects of the blow. When he was finally, mercifully substituted out of the game, Kramer appeared glassy-eyed. It’s a wonder that he managed to stay on the field that long, and it’s a wonder that Germany's team doctors allowed him to do so.

Advertisement

In Argentina’s semifinal match against the Netherlands, defender Javier Mascherano cracked his head and went right back in the game. The same thing happened earlier in the tournament with Uruguay’s Álvaro Pereira. In the New York Times, Juliet Macur noted, “Whether FIFA plans to change how it deals with game-time concussions is unclear, but what is obvious is that it didn’t do anything quickly enough to protect players like Mascherano.” She added, “Right now, though, FIFA is showing its cowardice by saying the onus is on the team doctor to determine if a player is healthy enough to return to the match. It’s as if FIFA hasn’t been following the issue of head injuries in sports at all.”

Business Insider’s Cork Gaines points out that coaches are reluctant to use any of their three substitutions on account of a head injury. He proposes a reasonable-sounding solution: “FIFA is going to have to allow special temporary substitutions when a head injury is suspected, something already being tested in Rugby. Allow teams to enter a substitute while the injured player is tested along with a time limit on the return of the player (e.g. if the player is not cleared to return in 12 minutes, he cannot return).”

Josh Levin is Slate's executive editor.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.