The FA has asked a number of leading professionals in head injury and concussion to form a new independent panel of experts to advise the organisation and football in England on this important subject.
The FA has convened the specialists to help the sport continue to review guidelines and expertise across both the elite and recreational parts of the game, to ensure football remains as safe as possible for those participating in it.
They will meet for the first time on 13 May 2015, led by eminent neuro surgeon Peter Hamlyn.
In recent years there has been an increasing awareness of the possible effects of head injuries and concussion across a number of sports including football, not least driven by the high-profile case of former West Bromwich Albion and England forward Jeff Astle.
At the weekend, Albion honoured their former centre-forward and celebrated his career at the fixture against Leicester City, playing in the famous all-white kit they wore in the 1968 FA Cup Final win over Everton, when Astle scored the only goal of the game to complete his record of scoring in every round of the Cup.
The fixture also marked the launch, by the Astle family, of the Jeff Astle Foundation, which will work to raise awareness of brain injury in sport and to offer support for those affected. FA Chairman Greg Dyke was present at The Hawthorns and pledged his ongoing support to the family, having already met with them to discuss the subject earlier this season.
Head of performance services at The FA, Dave Reddin, said: “The role of the expert panel is to monitor and advise The FA and other football bodies on the appropriate guidelines for all levels of the game.
“We have seen an improvement in guidance and communication in this area of sports medicine but we are conscious there is potentially much more to do across what is the nation’s largest and most popular team sport.
“The group will also be asked to help advise on how football’s world governing body should examine and research any long-term effects on the brain through head injury or repeated concussion episodes.
“We have taken a few more weeks to institute the group than anticipated, due to a new structure forming at St. George’s Park, and the willingness and desire to ensure the work is thoughtful and thorough. I genuinely believe we now have the right people on-board to be able to provide the right level of insight for such an important issue.”
The membership of the panel includes:
- Mr Pete Hamlyn (Neuro-Surgeon; UK)
- Dr Bob Cantu (Neuro-Surgeon and Researcher; USA)
- Prof Antonio Belli (Trauma Neuro-Surgeon; UK)
- Dr William Stewart (Neuropathologist; UK)
- Dr Simon Kemp (Chief Medical Officer, RFU; UK)
- Dr Joanna Iddon (Neuropsychologist; UK)
- Dr Richard Sylvester (Neurologist; UK)
- A Neuro-radiologist from the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery and Institute of Sport Exercise and Health
The panel will also be observed by representatives of the Premier League, Football League, Professional Footballers’ Association, as well as Reddin and The FA’s head of medical services, Dr Ian Beasley.