Qatar 2022 World Cup: Should Soccer Have Concussion Spotters?

Mar 25, 2022

When the Qatar 2022 World Cup rolls around this year, we’re going to see new additions on the field, but they’re not players. They’re concussion spotters. Their job is to look out for players who have suffered head impacts and assess them for concussions and other brain injuries. That makes the soccer world wonder if concussion spotters should be a thing at ALL levels of soccer. This post will dive into the topic and provide opinions on this new development.

Concussion Spotters at Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup

You won’t notice concussion spotters if nothing happens on the pitch. But if you see players collide, be sure to see some folks rush out to their assistance.

Doctors will accompany these spotters and use video replays to analyze collisions. Of course, if the spotters suspect any players to have brain injuries, they will bring them back to the bench for doctors to assess them. This marks the first international competition where FIFA will use soccer concussions specialists to help identify brain injuries in players.

Why it May Work

There’s no telling how effective concussion spotters will truly be at FIFA 2022. Nevertheless, having these soccer concussion specialists at the World Cup is a much-needed step in the right direction. American football and rugby (the latter of which uses concussion spotters) already make headlines for their concussion risks. The risk isn’t as high in soccer but still present nonetheless. Having concussion spotters at an international level serves two purposes:

1) To protect players from severe complications

2) Raise awareness about the need for concussion safety in soccer.

The first is urgent and should be a non-negotiable topic. The second reason, however, has broader implications, especially to protect the younger generations.

Implications for Soccer at All Levels

If concussion spotting at the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Qatar has even the slightest success, it will likely have major benefits for soccer from top to bottom. Think about what it can mean for semi-pro and amateur soccer alike. Remember, successful initiatives in the big leagues serve as case studies for the amateur leagues below them. If concussion spotting at FIFA 2022 works - and there are numbers and reports to back them up - this would encourage youth soccer leagues to adopt them too.

That brings us to a key question.

Should Youth/Amateur Leagues Have Concussion Spotters?

The answer to this question is “yes.” Ironically, we think this kind of observation for soccer concussions should start at the youth level because young players are more vulnerable to the effects of brain injuries.

One of the challenges players and coaches face at the youth level is not being able to easily identify a concussed player. This can have devastating consequences. If youth soccer leagues introduce concussion spotters, we could eliminate the guessing games and irresponsibility too.

Take this all-too-common scenario, for example. Two players bash heads during an aerial challenge. Both players fall to the ground, but one of the two players looks visibility dazed and hurt. The hurt player eases back into action, perhaps, getting a “you okay?” from the coach and teammates- and that’s it. But if there is any brain injury there, it goes unnoticed.

A soccer concussion spotter would pull that player aside and analyze them thoroughly before they even step back on the pitch. And if they suspect the player sustained an injury, they’d recommend immediate medical examination. Essentially, everything in the concussion protocol that can get overlooked would get noticed by a concussion spotter.

How to Improve Concussion Spotting Now

Of course, we probably won’t see concussion spotting become a mainstay in youth soccer just yet. But we can still make the game safer for our young players by taking practical steps. The key is for players, coaches and parents to have an awareness of concussion safety and how to act when someone gets hurt.

Interim Concussion Spotting

  • Learn the signs and symptoms - Knowing the signs and symptoms of a concussion before they can save lives. Once you know the symptoms in advance, you can recognize them on the pitch.
  • Take immediate action after an impact - If a player gets hit, always assume that they could be injured. Ask them if they feel any concussion symptoms (no matter how mild) and pay attention to outward signs of a concussion. Follow up with them as well.
  • Get injured players assessed sooner - If there is even the slightest indication that a player has a brain injury, encourage them to get medical attention immediately. Don’t wait!

Reminders on Concussions

Even if youth leagues don’t have access to concussion spotters and instant video replays, coaches and organizers can safeguard young players. First and foremost, we recommend more vulnerable players wear soccer concussion headgear as it may reduce the risk of brain injury.

Also, coaches should make exercises such as proper header technique, neck conditioning and visual awareness training part of weekly training regimens. And of course, players and coaches should follow the principle of “if in doubt, sit them out.” For now, these are the best ways to keep young players safe from soccer concussions.

Learn more about our Storelli ExoShield Head Guard and how it may offer your child unparalleled protection against head injuries.

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