A cringe-worthy head-to-head collision in the women’s USA-Germany semifinal game Tuesday highlighted FIFA’s still-lacking protocols for dealing with head injuries.
USA’s Morgan Brian and Germany’s Alexandra Popp both jumped to redirect a free kick on Germany’s goal, and, just after Brian managed to head it away, their heads collided with a force that sent them both to the ground for four minutes. Brian was kicking the artificial grass in pain; Popp’s head began bleeding.
But instead of being taken to the sidelines to be evaluated, both of them reported no symptoms and were sent right back on the field (after Popp’s head was bandaged). Taking them out would have used up one of the three substitutions each team is allowed per game, and sending them back in, had they been declared concussion-free, would have used up another.
As with Lebron James’s head-to-camera collision during the NBA Finals, the situation clearly deserved further evaluation to make sure it was safe for them to continue. Not only were they not required to be checked out, but the teams would have more or less been penalized if the players had left the field. Clearly something needs to change.
Regardless, we hope both Brian and Popp are concussion-free and will recover quickly from the incident. And we wish the USA team good luck as it takes on Japan Sunday for the title!
*Scientists have no conclusive evidence as to whether or how the reduction of g-forces during impacts reduces the number or degree of concussions and head injuries. GelDefender products provide supplemental padding as well as cooling and comfort benefits when used with helmets and caps. Participants in activities in which head impacts can occur should always use tested and approved helmets for protection. However, no helmet or supplemental padding can protect the user from all serious head or neck injuries that can result from impacts.