Potential concussive events (PCEs) are a major health concern in football. Though there are protocols set in place for assessments of PCEs, there has been no evidence of adherence in major football tournaments.
Our research goal is to determine if PCEs in elite football are professionally assessed according to the International Conference on Concussion in Sport (ICCS) consensus statement recommendations. Identification and analysis of PCEs in the 2018 World Cup (WC) were accomplished through standardised observation of video footage by trained observers. Results were contrasted with data from the 2014 WC and 2016 Euro Cup. Our primary outcomes include frequency and professional assessment of PCEs, signs of concussions and time stopped for assessments.
In the 64 games of the 2018 WC, 87 PCEs (1.36 per game) were identified. Thirty-one (35.6%) PCEs were professionally assessed, resulting in the removal of three (3.5%) players from the match. Six (6.9%) PCEs showed one sign of concussion, 60 (69.0%) showed two signs, 20 (23.0%) showed three signs and 1 (1.2%) showed four or more signs. The mean time stopped for assessment was 63.3 s. No significant change in the percentage of professional assessments (mean=33.4%, 95% CI 20.7% to 46.1%) were identified across tournaments (p=0.42).
These findings demonstrate a need for adherence to concussion protocols in order to improve the brain-health of athletes. Proper enforcement of the ICCS protocols during these tournaments and promoting player health and safety can influence the officiating, coaching and playing of football worldwide by promoting player safety.