Changes on the cards as UK government steps in to tackle concussion in sport

British politicians have released a 10-point plan to deal with the growing issue of head injuries and concussion across sport, after a parliamentary committee earlier sporting bodies of effectively ‘marking their own homework’ on the contentious issue.

Developed by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the plan vows to develop “new protocols” for all sports, ranging from the grassroots to the elite level, while a research forum will be set up to address what it sees as “knowledge gaps” in the current system.

“The plan sets out steps that will be taken to improve understanding, awareness, prevention and treatment of concussion in sport in grassroots, educational and elite settings,” the DCMS said in a statement. “This will be through a combination of improved research and the use of new technologies.

“These include creating new protocols for sporting bodies, convening a research forum and bringing together tech companies to find new technological solutions designed to mitigate both the effects of concussion in sport and instances of it happening.”

The new protocols will be developed alongside sporting bodies, but the government’s intervention signals a shift in thinking and confirms how seriously politicians in the UK are taking the issue.

Key features of the plan include: “The protocols will seek to include UK-wide agreement on issues such as how to recognise signs of head injury on and off the field, rules around removal from play and immediate actions to be taken in the event of head injuries; [and] require sports governing bodies to work closely with Player Associations on training protocols to improve players’ long-term welfare.”

The government will also start working with English Premier League football clubs in early 2022 “a pilot scheme for player welfare to make sure considerations around concussion are embedded within organisations’ governance”.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Sport brings so many physical and mental health benefits to our lives. However, player safety must be absolutely paramount. Working with the sports industry it is right that we do all we can to ensure that people are as protected as possible and the risk of head injuries are minimised.