FA announce they will fund study of dementia among footballers
In a major victory for the Mail on Sunday’s Concussion Campaign, the Football Association this week announced they will fund a potentially life-saving study to identify why footballers appear more prone to early onset dementia than the wider population.
Three years after the Mail on Sunday exposed the FA and the Professional Footballers’ Association’s failure to carry out a 10-year research project following the death of former England player Jeff Astle in 2001 from ‘industrial disease’ linked to heading footballs, action is being taken.
Our reports, which led to Astle’s brain being reexamined and diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy following permission from his family, resulted in the establishment of the ‘Justice for Jeff’ campaign and the Jeff Astle Foundation. They also triggered a seismic shift in attitude from football’s authorities.
In 2015, FA chairman Greg Dyke apologised for his organisation’s failure to deliver research and promised funding for future research. Finally, after a four-year campaign by this paper, the FA have publicly agreed to fund the project.
The FA’s head of medicine, Dr Charlotte Cowie, said: ‘This is a crucial issue for the FA and one that we feel passionately about. ‘It is important that the football authorities investigate further whether there are any potential risks associated with heading the ball, as this is a unique feature of our game.’ The Astle family is planning a gala dinner in May to highlight the work of the Astle Foundation, which seeks to provide support to families of ex-players suffering dementia.
‘If it was not for the Mail on Sunday we would never have known the research we believed had been undertaken was never carried out,’ said Laraine Astle, Jeff’s widow, last year.
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