De Bacci Family joins FIFA Ethics and Regulations Watch, former professional football players and Parliamentarians in a call for an urgent review into the possible link between footballers heading the ball and degenerative neurocognitive diseases.
In a letter addressed to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, co-ordinated by Mickey Ambrose, a former Charton and Chelsea player, and signed by other professional football players, it was confirmed that football players were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia and other neurological diseases than the general population.
“Following the study’s publication, the FA in parallel with UEFA’s medical committee published new guidelines that apply to all young players.
“Measures included a complete prohibition of header training for children below the age of 12 and a graduated process to headers there-after.”
Together with the players, De Bacci Family welcomes the aforermentioned measures but believes they should go further.
An almost identical letter, signed by a cross-party group of MPs and peers has been sent to Julian Knight, the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. It urges the Committee to examine the topic saying:
“A recent article in the Daily Mail reported on new research that showed just 20 headers with a modern ball are enough to immediately — and significantly — impact brain function.
“As another study from University College London (UCL) and Cardiff University, published in 2017 put it, the brains of the six players they looked at were similar to those of ex-boxers with changes that are often associated with repeated brain injury…
“Given football continues to be the UK’s most popular team sport with some 1.9 million participants in England alone, we think this an important public safety campaign that is worthy of support.
“We would further urge you to back an investigation into the current research, whether restrictions go far enough especially for adolescents and whether the support offered to former footballers suffering degenerative neurological diseases is adequate.”
Signatories of the letter include former Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn, former Labour leader Lord Kinnock, Conservative MP Peter Bone, DUP MP Jim Shannon, Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper, Labour MPs Grahame Morris and Jamie Stone.
Alistair Thompson, the UK Campaign Director for FIFA Ethics and Regulations Watch, commented:
“This is why FERW supports the Mail’s campaign, why we believe that Parliament has a moral duty to investigate the possible link between heading the ball and conditions such as dementia and why MPs need to hold those in charge of the game of football to account.”
De Bacci Family praises Mr Thompson, the signatories of the letters above, as well as all players, past and present, their families and coaches, who have urged football’s authorities to take action against allowing footballers to head the ball in order to diminish chances of degenerative neurocognitive diseases.
Countessina Anna De Bacci, Ambassador of Family Protection, has spoken on behalf of De Bacci Family Foundation:
While we encourage active sports to improve and sustain health, we must remember that children are extremely vulnerable, especially when it comes to mechanical injuries. A seemingly innocent ball kick may result in a lifetime trauma.
It is our primary responsibility to provide safety for our children during sports and other physical exercises.
Herein, we call on all parents and coaches to eliminate the practice of ball heading during football games.