Home » Sir Alex Ferguson backs calls for compensation for football-related brain injuries

Sir Alex Ferguson backs calls for compensation for football-related brain injuries

by David Abraham

Sir Alex Ferguson has joined forces with a group of former managers and players calling for the reclassification of football-related brain injuries, to make way for compensation to victims’ families.

According to The Times, Ferguson, along with three other Scottish managers and 27 former professional footballers, is calling on the Scottish government to ensure that brain damage caused by repeatedly heading footballs be considered an industrial injury.

The move comes as Scottish legend and ex-Manchester United defender, Gordon McQueen, passed away just last week. McQueen was diagnosed with dementia two years ago, and as the BBC reports, his family are convinced that his suffering was due to years of repeatedly heading footballs.

There is a significant body of research that shows that repeatedly heading a football, particularly at the professional level can lead to long-term neurological effects.

One study from Glasglow University, led by Professor Willie Stewart, showed that defenders are particularly susceptible – given how much heading they do – and are five times more likely than the average person to develop neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.

This is significant, given that the threshold for an ailment to be classified as an industrial disease is a risk level that is twice what the average person would face.

In Stewarts’s words, the health risks involved in playing football are so significant that the game “should be sold with a health warning.”

This study backs up previous research, also from Glasglow University, as well as another by the University of Nottingham, commissioned by the Football Association and Professional Footballer’s Association, proving that footballers face significantly higher risks of brain trauma than regular people.

Sir Alex has been joined by other notable figures such as Alex Mcleish, Gordon Strachan and Craig Levein, all of whom signed a letter to the Scottish parliament, as part of Labour MSP Michael Marra’s Injury Time campaign.

In addition to seeking compensation – which would be paid as social security benefits to the victim’s next of kin, the Injury Time campaign also gives its support to Mark Griffin’s private member’s bill seeking to establish an employment injuries advisory council for Scotland.

This would empower the Scottish government to autonomously determine what ailments can be considered industrial injuries.

According to one Scottish government spokesperson:

“Industrial injuries disablement benefit continues to be delivered by the UK government who decide which conditions should be prescribed for the purposes of the benefit.”

“We recognise that there are a range of views on industrial injuries disablement benefit, which is why we have committed to a consultation in the next few months on our approach to replacing the scheme in Scotland.”

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