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Concussion subs to be trialled in League of Ireland this season

The FAI explained the process in a statement this evening.

A general view of Tallaght Stadium, where the first match using concussion subs - the President's Cup final - will be played next month.
A general view of Tallaght Stadium, where the first match using concussion subs - the President's Cup final - will be played next month.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

CONCUSSION SUBSTITUTES WILL be trialled in the League of Ireland and the Women’s National League through the upcoming season.

The FAI confirmed that they will come into effect for the President’s Cup meeting of Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk on Friday, 12 March, after the Association’s application to trial the concept was approved by the International Football Association Board [IFAB].

On a season-long trial basis, concussions subs will now be utilised in the SSE Airtricity Premier and First Divisions, the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League and the senior men’s and women’s FAI Cup competitions in 2021.

“The IFAB-led trial is designed so that in the event of an actual or suspected concussion, the player in question should be permanently removed from the match to protect their welfare, but the player’s team should not suffer a numerical disadvantage,” the FAI statement explains.

“Protocol B allows for two permanent concussion subs per team in a game with no numerical or tactical disadvantage.”

The Premier League began using concussion substitutes for the first time earlier this month, while its introduction is to be put forward at GAA Congress.

“This approach prevents a player sustaining another concussion during the match as multiple head-injury incidents can have very serious consequences,” League of Ireland Director, Mark Scanlon, said.

“It also sends a strong message that, if in doubt, the player is withdrawn but there is no numerical or tactical disadvantage to either side by prioritising the player’s welfare. The rule reduces the pressure on medical personnel to make a quick assessment and is simple to operate.”

Source: FAI TV/YouTube

FAI medical director, Dr Alan Byrne, has produced an information video for players, coaches and supporters ahead of the trial period, having recently briefed club medical staff and management during a virtual conference.

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“Fifa and Uefa have been involved for many years in research around concussion and this is a development which I very much welcome,” Byrne said. “I don’t think we can ever be done with educating and making people more aware of this topic.

“The season-long trial is part of the knowledge gathering around the whole area of concussion.

“We hope to gain some knowledge around the types of injuries that can cause concussion, help build our knowledge base and put us in a better position to make decisions around the welfare and safety of our players.”

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