FIFA medical committee chief Michel D’Hooghe (WFI)

(WFI) FIFA medical experts are considering new rules in which a match would be halted for at least three minutes if a player is suspected of concussion.

The chairman of FIFA’s medical committee, Michel D’Hooghe, announced the proposal at the Soccerex Global Convention in Manchester.

D’Hooghe denied FIFA was not concerned enough about the effects of concussion following high-profile incidents at the World Cup in Brazil, including Alvaro Pereira in Uruguay’s match against England and Germany’s Christian Kramer in the final against Argentina.

“I have heard it said sometimes that FIFA and football is not taking care enough against concussion. In fact our first directions date as far back as 2003,” he said. “We have organised four conferences and made our conclusions public in the British Journal of Sports Medicine so people can’t tell me that FIFA did nothing.

“What is true is that we had no strict rules.”

D’Hooghe revealed that in a meeting last month, the FIFA medical committee came up with a proposal which they will seek to have ratified by the executive committee for enactment on Oct. 1.

“There are sports like American Football where they have 200 concussions a year and in Australian Football they have 120 a year,” he explained. “In soccer we have a concussion case once in 20 games so it is not frequent but that does not mean it is not a serious problem.

“Now the medical committee is proposing that where there is a suspected concussion the referee must stop the game for three minutes which will give the team doctor the chance to evaluate medically the condition of the player. Of course if he is unconscious it is not difficult but if he is not, it gives the doctor the chance to talk to him and give him a brief neurological examination and then take a decision.”

He added: “The referee will allow the player to continue only with the permission of the team doctor. The decision is for the team doctor… not for the coach and not for the player.”

Support for FIFA Term Limits

Members of FIFA’s executive committee have voiced their support for term limits to be introduced for officials on world football’s governing body. On Monday at Soccerex, FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein declared his support for the idea of term limits.

Although the idea was rejected at the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo in June, other ExCo members Moya Dodd and Jim Boyce added their backing to limiting terms for FIFA’s top brass.

“With term limits and age limits; in Asia we have both,” Australian Dodd said. “In effect the age limit has operated like a proxy term limit – when members hit 70, they move on. I think term limits are generally healthy for turnover in an organisation.

“Age limits are, on the face of it, discriminatory and not best way to ensure turnover anyway.”

Talk of term limits follows the announcement by FIFA president Sepp Blatter earlier this week that he plans to stand for a fifth term in office in 2015. He will inform the ExCo at its meeting in two weeks’ time.

Northern Irishman Boyce, who will step down from his role as vice president next year, said he was in favour of not only a term limit but also an age limit. “If someone serves three terms, then that’s 12 years that they

The FIFA panel at Soccerex included Jim Boyce, Moya Dodd and Michel D’Hooghe (WFI)

have had a very good contribution and it’s time for someone else to have that contribution.”

Changes to age and term limits were among the most controversial recommendations for reform put forward by former FIFA Independent Governance Committee chair Mark Pieth.

Qatar Ready for Summer or Winter

Qatar will bow to the wishes of the international footballing community on the date for the 2022 World Cup, according to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy.

Qatar 2022 communications chief Nasser El Khater finished the second day of Soccerex by explaining that preparations were actually ahead of schedule and that a timing switch was not concerning his team. Construction work has started on four of the 12 proposed stadiums, with another due to start before the year’s end.

“Our position has been the same,” he said. “As long as the international football community has a consensus, we will be ready to host it at that time. As long as everyone is agreed, we have no issues.”

The switch from the northern hemisphere summer to winter looks ever

more likely with Blatter saying this week that the World Cup “cannot be played” in the fierce desert heat.

But there is resistance from the European Club Association. At its annual meeting in Geneva on Tuesday, its leaders said that very good reasons are needed to switch the Qatar tournament to the winter, likely November/ December, because it would cause severe disruption to the European domestic league season and Champions League.

Commenting on the allegations of human rights abuses in the Gulf state, El Khater reiterated his stance that “not one single death” had occurred on any World Cup-related projects. He voiced his belief that the tournament would be a catalyst for positive change: “A lot of progress will take place because of the World Cup. All this work and all this progress, making sure people are held accountable will take time, but we have seen significant progress.”

Dein on Premier League Winter Break

Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein voiced his support for a winter break in the Premier League at Soccerex and admitted that it may eventually come because of the Qatar World Cup switch.

“I’m a great advocate for a winter break. I’d love to see it. Other countries have a winter break, players need a break and for the fans, as well, it wouldn’t do any harm. People are nervous of change but we’ve got to do it,” he said.

“We’ve got to do it now. If the will is there we will find a way. The television companies have to understand it and come to the party because it’s in the best interest of the players so I see no reason not to introduce a winter break sooner.

“It can’t wait for the World Cup in Qatar. The idea has momentum. If it were voted by the Premier League clubs I think it would go through on the nod today.”

Dein was one of the founding members of the Premier League and could play an influential role in convincing clubs to back the idea.

By Christian Radnedge in Manchester

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