NEW YORK TIMES
August 27, 2014
A group of soccer parents and players filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday morning against FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, over its handling of concussions. Filed in United States District Court in California, the suit also names American soccer organizations, including U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization, charging that they and FIFA have been negligent in monitoring and treating head injuries.
The plaintiffs do not seek financial damages but ask for changes to the sport’s rules, such as limiting headers for children and altering FIFA’s substitution protocols. With the N.F.L., the N.H.L. and the N.C.A.A. involved in concussion litigation, soccer’s governing bodies are the latest to face a lawsuit over head injuries.
“There is an epidemic of concussion injuries in soccer at all levels around the world, including in the United States, from youth to professionals, from elite players to children playing for the first time, women and men, girls and boys,” the filing reads. “FIFA presides over this epidemic and is one of its primary causes.”
The suit seeks an injunction that would change the way soccer is played at all levels. Children under 17 would be limited in how many times they could head the ball. The suit also seeks to require professional and other advanced leagues, which are currently limited to three substitutions a game, to allow temporary substitutions while a player is examined for a head injury. Medical testing would also be available for soccer players who competed as long ago as 2002 and are now coping with the effects of concussions.
A FIFA spokesman said the organization had no comment because it was unaware of the suit as of late Wednesday morning.
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