FA Finally Opens Study Into Link Between Football and Dementia
The campaign for research into the link between football and dementia secured an important victory last week when the Football Association (FA) committed to a major new study into what affected families have called 'sport’s silent scandal'.
Jeff Astle’s family have been unremitting in calling for answers ever since the former England striker died in 2002 from brain injuries sustained during his playing career and a number of national newspapers have also taken up the campaign with an influential series of hard-hitting reports.
The FA and PFA finally responded to the mounting pressure on Thursday with a joint announcement inviting independent researchers to submit proposals that will answer the question of whether footballers are suffering disproportionately from degenerative brain injury. The FA’s head of medicine, Charlotte Cowie, presented the case for research to the FA’s Board on Wednesday and funding for a six-figure sum has been signed off.
The news has been welcomed, albeit cautiously, by the families of those players who have been suffering the devastating impact of degenerative brain disease after a series of unfulfilled previous commitments.
Over the past year, it has also been reported how half the surviving outfield players in the 1966 World Cup winning team are suffering from dementia or memory loss, as well as the plight of other past heroes, including Stan Bowles, Frank Kopel, Jimmy Hill and Ernie Moss.
The FA confirmed in a statement that, in collaboration with the PFA, it was 'now seeking applications for independent research into degenerative neurocognitive disease in ex-professional footballers'. It will be completed by an independent research group and the study will be focused on one fundamental question: ‘Is the incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease more common in ex-professional footballers than in the normal population?’
This study is long overdue and I await its findings with interest.