Lloris incident proof that BPL needs to rethink protocol on head injuries


Hugo Lloris should never have stayed in the game.

The Tottenham goalkeeper was momentarily knocked out cold after his head violently collided with Romelu Lukaku’s knee, but incredibly returned to see out the match in favor of substitute Brad Friedel.

Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas defended his decision to keep Lloris on the field to Sky Sports after the match:

The medical department was giving me signs that the player couldn’t carry on, because he couldn’t remember where he was. But he was quite focused and determined to continue, so when you see this kind of assertiveness it means he is able to carry on, and that is why it was my call to delay the substitution… The call always belongs to me. Brad [Friedel] was ready to come in but the person Hugo is, there were enough signs for him to continue.

That is simply the wrong answer. Concussions cannot be taken this lightly.

All efforts by Lloris to stay on the field should have been thwarted by the Spurs’ medical staff, his manager, his teammates, the referee, anyone. The fact he was allowed to play on is not only an indictment on Villas-Boas for failing to protect his player, but also proof that the Premier League needs to rethink its policy on head injuries.

Currently, the BPL’s policy is as follows:

Any Player, whether engaged in a League Match, any other match or in training, who having sustained a head injury leaves the field of play, shall not be allowed to resume playing or training (as the case may be) until he has been examined by a medical practitioner and declared fit to do so.”

Sunday’s incident proves that this policy is utterly worthless. As Villas-Boas said, the medical team did not want Lloris to continue. It was his call.

How can the Premier League allow this to happen? A new policy, and indeed a league-wide education on head injuries and its serious short- and long-term effects, needs to be put in place.

Perhaps they should take a page out of Major League Soccer’s book. Per MLS rules, any player who suffers a head injury such as Lloris’ would immediately be substituted. He would then have to be deemed symptom-free and cleared by a neuropsychologist before resuming any type of activity.

Former MLS star Taylor Twellman, who suffers from post-concussion syndrome, was one of the first to call for change via Twitter:

Twellman is right. Players will always try to play through injuries, whatever the type - it’s how they are wired. In cases of head injuries, it’s the job of the managers and the doctors to prevent them from doing so. And it’s the league’s job to make that a requirement.


Images by Reuters