MLS Players’ Association Voices Criticisms of Decision Involving Temporary Concussion Substitutes

Mar 10, 2023

The union for Major League Soccer has put a shot on the frame of FIFA, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the US Soccer Federation and MLS for failing to embrace “temporary concussion substitutes.”

The statement reads:

“Medical professionals have made clear, with near unanimity, that the rules of the game as mandated by FIFA, the IFAB, the US Soccer Federation and MLS do not provide sufficient time for the proper assessment of players for potential concussions. Each of these organizations is well aware that as a result, players too often remain in games with head injuries. Medical professionals also agree that the solution to this problem is to provide for temporary concussion substitutes to allow players to be properly evaluated.

“Despite all this, FIFA and IFAB recently rejected a proposal from players unions (through FIFPro) and leagues (through the World Leagues Forum) to allow a trial of temporary concussion substitutes beginning with the 2023 MLS season. FIFA and IFAB’s shortsighted, misguided decision demonstrates once again their failure to prioritize player health and safety in our sport. Their refusal to act provides yet another example of global soccer’s broken governance structure.

“Despite its ability and previously stated desire to do so, MLS has made the decision to follow rather than lead on this issue by refusing to implement a temporary concussion substitute trial. As the 2023 MLS season kicks off tomorrow, the league’s lack of courage leaves us with an outdated model that fails to protect players from further injury and allows tradition to triumph over science.

“Modern science in concussion treatment and diagnosis makes clear that the soccer industry must adapt in order to best protect players. It is incumbent upon federations and leagues such as the USSF and MLS to choose for themselves that the time for change is now. Instead, FIFA, IFAB, the USSF and MLS are knowingly putting players at substantial risk. They each deserve to be held accountable.”

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