FIFA insisted Thursday there is no conclusive proof that heading a ball causes an increased risk of brain disease, after the release of a study on footballers who died from dementia.
“To our very best knowledge, there is currently no true evidence of the negative effect of heading or other sub-concussive blows,” football’s world body said in response to calls by British neurological experts for greater research.
“Results from studies on active and former professional football players in relation to brain function are inconclusive,” a spokesman said in a statement. The spokesman acknowledged that professional players are “more exposed to all football activities including heading from early childhood than recreational players.” But FIFA said: “Fortunately, football (soccer) does not belong to the high-risk sports for brain and head injuries.”
A British study said professional footballers are at heightened risk of developing a brain disease that can cause dementia and is usually found in boxers and American football players.
The study, published in the Acta Neuropathologica journal, looked at 14 retired footballers with dementia who started playing football and heading the ball in childhood or early teens.
Post-mortem exams on six of the players found that four showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), far in excess of the average rate of 12 percent found in the general population.
It is the first time CTE has been confirmed in a study involving ex-football players.—AFP