The sports legends of the world give it they’re all while playing, both mentally as well as physically. This extreme devotion to the sport often takes its toll on their bodies and later on they have to pay the price with their health. This has just been proven once again as studies revealed that professional footballers stand a much higher chance of suffering from dementia as well as other neurological diseases than others.
The University of Glasgow’s Brain Injury Group has just completed a 22-month study which revealed that professional footballers have an increased likelihood of suffering from dementia or any other neurological severe disease later on in life, of three and a half times. They also revealed a risk increase of five times for Alzheimer’s and four times for motor neuron disease and twice for Parkinson’s. The causes of these finding, however, remains still uncertain and researchers couldn’t determine whether this is due to the heading of leather footballs, regular concussions or any other contributing factor. Further research funded by the Football Association will now continue to determine the contributing factors affecting the lives of these heroes.
The Football Association stated that the study has been revealing. They mentioned that it used digitized data from NHS Scotland and compared the cause of death of 7 676 former professional male footballers born between 1900 and 1976 with the data of 23 000 people living ordinary lives. Yet the FA stated that this is not yet providing enough evidence to bring about any change to any aspect of the game. Still, Marc Bullingham, FA chief executive said that they would continuously monitor the situation and continually reassess all aspects of the game if any new evidence brings about new findings.
Over past years the Professional Footballers’ Association has been criticized for their slow response to the problem of dementia in former players. With the new research coming to light, family members of former players who have already passed away due to these diseases required an apology from the FA. One such player is Mike Sutton who formerly played for Norwich. Sutton’s son Chris Sutton stated that over the past decade the FA has been slow to give any response to the evident dementia problem among former players and now he wants an apology for this.
Another family expressing their shock regarding the situation is the family of Jeff Astle. Astle, the former striker to West Bromwich Albion, passed away in 2002 due to what was stated by the coroner as “industrial disease”. His career of heading heavy footballs at least partly caused this. They now said that they are shocked by how large the scale of the problem is.
These families will never get their loved ones back, but they do have some questions answered now and want the FA to show that they cared enough for their players to make the necessary changes to protect and support them.