Several footballers who played as recently as the 1990s have been diagnosed with dementia in further evidence against argument that the old leather ball is behind the link between the sport and the disease
- Several footballers who played in the 1990s have been diagnosed with dementia
- The PFA has been contacted by relatives of ex-players born in the late 1950s
- The news further debunks that the old leather ball is behind the link with illness
- Dawn Astle is currently working with PFA to provide help for families of sufferers
A number of footballers who played in the 1990s have been diagnosed with dementia.
The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) has been contacted by relatives of ex-players born in the late 1950s who have been told they have the condition, providing further evidence debunking the argument that the old leather ball is behind the link between the sport and an increased risk of neuro-degenerative diseases.
The news comes as the Government holds two summits in which leading players from various sports, along with governing bodies, will discuss a continuing crisis.
The PFA have been contacted by 1990s footballers who have been diagnosed with dementia
The Government is holding two summits with players and bodies to discuss the ongoing crisis
One of those on the virtual call will be campaigner Dawn Astle, the daughter of former West Brom and England forward Jeff who died at the age of 59 in 2002.
Astle is currently working with the PFA to provide help for families of sufferers. She is also looking into the union setting up a dementia arm after it responded to Sportsmail’s campaign calling on football to finally tackle its dementia scandal.
‘The first priority for us is to secure help for the families who need it,’ she said. ‘The difficulty is that each situation is very difficult. The needs of people whose relatives are well down the road are different to those who have just been diagnosed.
‘We are hearing from more and more people who were born in the late 1950s, and who played in the late 80s and early 90s who have been diagnosed.’
Dawn Astle is currently working with the PFA to provide help for families of sufferers
Astle is not surprised by the new cases. ‘Look at the science,’ she said. ‘If you double the weight of the ball, you get twice as much energy. If you double the speed of the ball, you get four times as much energy.’
Sportsmail also called on the PFA to increase funding for families of those suffering from dementia and associated diseases. And Astle says she is yet to face any opposition in doing just that.
‘We’ve not had any barriers — I’d have kicked off if I had,’ she explained. ‘As far as the families coming forward now they are all getting the support they need.’
Sportsmail’s seven-point campaign has also called for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes. The Premier League, acting on guidance from lawmakers the International Football Association Board, are to trial permanent concussion substitutions from this weekend.
However, Astle will tell the call that temporary replacements are the way forward.
Astle will tell the virtual call that temporary replacements are the way forward in football
‘Permanent subs change nothing,’ she explained. ‘They do not increase the amount of time there is for doctors to make their assessment. They don’t allow for a player to be removed from an environment where his manager and 50,000 faces are glaring at him.
‘There’s no allowance, for example, for the language barrier. And if you’re a player who knows he is going to be taken off and won’t be able to come back on, are you going to want to come off? And why does every other sport have temporary subs?’
Dr Willie Stewart, whose groundbreaking, ongoing FIELD study identified the increased risk is also not surprised.
‘The biggest risk factor for dementia is age,’ he said. ‘This means that to know the risk of dementia in any generation of footballers is waiting until 40 years after they’ve left the game.
‘Any assumption that footballers playing in more modern eras might not be at risk of dementia is based on a false security.
‘Global sport should act now to reduce risk, rather than waiting another 40 years to find continued inaction has left today’s footballers at the same risk as the generation before them, and the generation before, and so on.’
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