Leeds join call for temporary substitutions after Robin Koch head injury | Leeds United

Leeds insist they followed the Premier League’s concussion protocol after Robin Koch sustained a head injury in Sunday’s home defeat by Manchester United and have called for the use of temporary substitutions.

The Professional Footballers’ Association and brain injury charity Headway have again expressed support for the introduction of temporary substitutes after Koch was allowed to play on, with the PFA claiming “the current concussion protocols within football are failing to prioritise player safety”.

Koch was left covered in blood after a clash with Scott McTominay early in the match but returned to the pitch with his head bandaged before going down again and being taken off.

Football Association guidelines state that any player who sustains a suspected concussion should immediately be removed from the pitch, and extra permanent substitutions are allowed in such cases. Temporary substitutions would allow players to be fully evaluated before a decision is made about returning to play.

“Leeds United can confirm that following a clash of heads, Robin Koch passed all of the on-field concussion screening tests that are currently part of the Premier League protocols,” the club said. “The player was told if he developed any symptoms he should sit down on the field of play and would be substituted immediately, which is what Robin did in the 29th minute of the game.

“The medical staff at Leeds United have always been in favour of temporary substitutions for head injuries, as it would allow the staff more time to assess an injury and allow a period for symptoms to potentially develop. Robin will follow the concussion protocols before returning to play.”

The PFA had said earlier in a strongly worded statement: “The injury to Leeds United’s Robin Koch demonstrates again that the current concussion protocols within football are failing to prioritise player safety. The ‘if in doubt, sit them out’ protocol is not being applied consistently within the pressurised environment of elite competitive football.

“We see frequent incidents of players returning to play with a potential brain injury, only to be removed shortly afterwards once symptoms visibly worsen. As the representative voice of players in England, we have been clear to The IFAB [International Football Association Board, the law-making body] that we want to see the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes.

“Temporary concussion substitutes will allow medical teams additional time and an appropriate environment to make an initial assessment. Introducing temporary substitutes would allow a match to restart with neither side numerically disadvantaged, reducing pressure on players and medical teams to make quick decisions on whether an injured player continues.

“Put simply, the current rules set by The IFAB are not working, and players are being put at risk.”

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Marcelo Bielsa had said the cut rather than the force of the blow to Koch’s head was the reason for the player’s withdrawal. “He had a cut in his head and what excludes him or made him come off is the cut,” the Leeds manager said.

Chris Sutton, whose father, Mike, a former professional footballer, died with dementia in 2020, wrote on Twitter: “Football doesn’t care about its players. What needs to happen before the concussion procedure changes?”

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