Soccer organizations like FIFA are not doing enough to prevent sports injuries and concussions, according to a lawsuit filed in San Francisco on Wednesday, which claims FIFA, US Youth Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization have not done enough to reduce preventable injuries from repetitive ball heading.
The two youth organizations alone account for 3 million children and adolescents who play soccer in the United States.
The risks of head injuries in sports has been a recurring concern in the U.S. Last month the National Collegiate Athletic Association agreed to settle a head injury lawsuit by toughening return-to-play rules for players who receive head blows and creating a $70 million fund for testing for thousands of current and former athletes to undergo testing to determine whether they suffered brain trauma.
The National Hockey League and the National Football League have faced similar lawsuits.
The risks of concussion in soccer came to the fore in July during the World Cup final when Christoph Kramer, the German defender who moments earlier had been dazed in a clash with Argentina player Ezequiel Garay, needed to be subbed out. This was only the highest-profile of a number of head injuries during the World Cup, including a knee to the head for Gonzalo Higuaín from Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in the same game.
“For many families soccer is seen as a terrific alternative to football,” the lawsuit said. “Parents are often relieved when their children choose soccer. However, soccer ranks among the top sports in the number of concussions per game.”Steve Berman, a Seattle lawyer who helped negotiate the NCAA settlement, also represents the soccer parents and players who filed the lawsuit Wednesday. The plaintiffs include Rachel Mehr, a onetime youth club soccer player, parents of children who have played in youth leagues and Kira Akka-Seidel, a former club player at the University of California at Santa Cruz.