Parents file concussion lawsuit against FIFA, youth soccer

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With soccer season starting, parents and players filed a class action lawsuit against FIFA and other groups over their handling of concussions.

Is the sport of soccer too dangerous? Some parents and former school-aged players think so. The group is suing FIFA and the governing groups of soccer in this country over their handling of concussions. The group's claim is negligence in dealing with the head injuries.

FIFA and the other defendants have not responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit that asks the federal courts to impose an injunction that would literally change the way soccer is played.

"There's been an epidemic of concussions in youth soccer," said lawyer Derek Howard.

Howard is one of the lawyers who filed the lawsuit. He's also a longtime youth soccer coach.

The suit seeks no money, only changes in the way concussions are handled.

Parents and former school soccer players filing the suit want to make sure that children who suffer concussions don't return to play in that game. They also don't want children at young ages to be heading, or using their head to hit the ball.

"Many children in this country start heading soccer balls when they're five or six years old," Howard said. "And clearly that is against their medical interests."

Brad Rothenberg heads a well know sports marketing firm whose clients include soccer teams and players. He says one solution would be helmets

"FIFA and soccer world is on the cusp of having new apparel products and it's something on your head that prevents head injuries or at least reduces the impact of head injuries," he said.

Rothenberg supports the lawsuit. He's a parent of children who play soccer. So, would they wear a helmet?

"As long as it's not as bulky as a helmet, I might wear it," said 10-year-old Henry Rothenberg.

"Possibly," said 10-year-old Sam Rothenberg, "I would try it out maybe at practices and stuff."

In 2010, according to the filing, nearly 50,000 school soccer players suffered concussions. That's more than those in baseball, basketball, softball, and wrestling combined.

In the meantime, youth sports organizations in Texas are taking new steps to guard against concussions there.

Football leagues in Plano now encourage players to get baseline concussion testing before they take the field. The tests check a child's memory, focus, and balance.

It's the same process required by many high schools, including ones in the Bay Area. Athletic trainers say it's a no brainer.

"To see the number of athletes that we're getting is amazing and it's across all sports," Jonathan Hancock said. "More and more we're starting to realize that the concussions these kids are getting are mild more than anything else, but they set the stage."

The results the trainers get will be compared to the data they get after a brain injury. This will allow them to better understand the severity of any injury.

And America's largest football helmet manufacturer says it's come up with a new helmet, it hopes will reduce concussions.

Riddell says a flexible panel on the helmet will absorb more of the energy on impact.

Players from 16 NFL teams and a dozen college squads will wear one this weekend.

Doctors, however, aren't sure how much the helmets will help, since concussions are generally caused when the head snaps back and the brain slams against the inside of the skull.
Related Topics:
sportshealthchildrenchildren injuriessocceru.s. soccerFIFAu.s. & worldlawsuitparenting
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