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Football and dementia

Emerging research evidence suggests that there is a potential link between playing contact sports and the development of neurodegenerative diseases, like dementia, later in life. Some research suggests that the repetitive head impacts that result from heading the ball are to blame.

Football Association guidance

In response to these research findings, the English and Scottish Football Associations have produced guidance on heading the ball. The English FA guidance for heading was introduced ahead of the 2021-22 football season. The Scottish FA new adult game heading guidance was published in November 2022. For adults, this guidance aims to reduce the amount of heading that happens during training.

The English guidelines for youth football (PDF) and Scottish guidelines for children’s and youth football both recommend that that heading is not introduced into training sessions for under-11s and gradually introduced later.

Industrial Injuries Advisory Council

The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council is an independent advisory body sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions. The Council make recommendations in relation to diseases for which Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit can be paid. They are currently undertaking an investigation into neurodegenerative brain disease in ex-footballers and participants in other contact sports.

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