Yesterday’s less-than-shocking revelation that Liverpool goalkeeper sustained a concussion from a well-placed elbow from Sergio Ramos obviously changes nothing about the result, but perhaps can be used to start changing the conversation around head injuries going forward.
At least, that is the hope of world footballers association Fifpro, who announced shortly after the Karius news broke that they will be producing and releasing an educational video on how to spot the symptoms of a concussion during a game, not well after the fact.
That Karius sustained a head injury in the world’s biggest club football match, and was clearly not the same after—directly leading to the two decisive goals—creates a rare opportunity to start a discussion about what can and should be done differently going forward.
An educational video is a good first step, but far from the aggressive and systematic measures that need to be taken in order to fully address this problem.
The systematic problems (leaving aside the obvious and exhausting issue of flying elbows for now) include, but are not limited to: a player culture of trying to “tough it out,” managers constrained by limited substitutions, game stoppages left to referee discretion, medical decisions being made by partisan observers and/or overruled by players or mangers (for the reasons listed above), and so on.
And, as many of the garbage hot-takes following this news show, fans are also to blame for a complete lack of sympathy and understanding of the serious and potential severity of head trauma.
Even without malicious intent, concussions will always be part of the game. Obviously, this can affect the outcome (as it clearly did in the Champions League final), but that is really neither here nor there. The important take away is that FIFA and UEFA can and must take greater steps to ensure player safety during the game, and not significantly after.
No Liverpool fan (at least not a commenter here) is calling for a rematch or any other such silliness. But we should be screaming bloody murder about changing the protocols around head injuries, from the top down.
If this is a teachable moment, we as a football community should teach, and make the game we love all the better for it.
Real Madrid might be celebrating #13 without a care for how it happened, but the rest of us were deprived of a great match between two great teams because of two injuries.
With better rules in place, at least one of those injuries could have been dealt with in a timely manner. Hopefully not too many footballers will have to suffer similar fates to Karius before the governing bodies start to make serious changes for the better.
Our complete solidarity with @LFC goalkeeper @LorisKarius— FIFPro (@FIFPro) June 5, 2018
We are working on an educational video to help footballers recognize and report when a teammate/opponent suffers a concussion
This will be shown in dressing rooms around the world next season by our member unions pic.twitter.com/YOx5mW2cs0