Wales Manager Rob Page defends Neco Williams’ concussion decision: ‘We followed FIFA guidelines’

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Updated: Dec 1, 2022

Wales’ disappointing exit from the World Cup was not the only issue Robert Page faced in his post-match press conference.

The Wales’ manager came under criticism for the decision to keep Neco Williams on the pitch after the defender suffered a head injury before eventually replacing him.

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“Neco took a blow to the head,” Page said after the game. “There are protocols in place, understandably with a concussion.

“He passed the initial test. We followed FIFA guidelines.”

Meanwhile, speaking on the BBC, former England international Alan Shearer criticised the current guidelines in place: “I would say to IFAB, ‘what on earth are you waiting for?’ because everyone is under pressure to make a decision.”

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The controversy around the concussion protocols has been a theme in recent years, with the decision to allow concussion substitutions not enough for many experts on the injury.

Luke Griggs, Chief Executive of the charity Headway, recently spoke about the issue and said: “This is the second incident at this World Cup where a player’s brain health has not been prioritised.

“Medics are being forced to make snap judgements under pressure, which is allowing players being allowed to stay on the field despite the assumed presence of at least some doubt over a concussion.

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“FIFA and ITFAB’s refusal to introduce a temporary concussion risk is causing undue risk to players.”

In spite of these recent injuries, FIFA has defended the current guidelines, in a statement to media outlet Sportstar, the governing body said: “The health of all individuals involved in the FIFA World Cup is a key priority. FIFA has therefore implemented a comprehensive concussion protocol, which is based on FIFA’s ‘suspect and protect’ credo.

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“Based on this protocol, FIFA provides a standardised approach to support team doctors in their decision as to whether a player should be allowed to continue to play or should be removed from play after a head injury”

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Guidelines and protocols regarding concussion will likely remain the same for the duration of this World Cup but the clamour and campaign for a temporary substitution will persist, so long as medics are forced to make decisions on the pitch about the health of a player.

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