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FIFA to improve concussion protocol with 3-minute break for team doctors to assess players

09/23/2014 10:11 EDT | Updated 11/23/2014 05:59 EST
ZURICH - FIFA wants to improve football's concussion protocol by stopping matches for three minutes while team doctors assess players with head injuries.

After high-profile incidents of injured players staying on the field at the World Cup, FIFA said Tuesday its executive committee will confirm a proposal that gives referees new powers to halt play at its two-day meeting starting Thursday. The board includes Belgian doctor Michel D'Hooghe, who chairs the FIFA and UEFA medical committees.

"The incidents at the World Cup have shown that the role of team doctors needs to be reinforced in order to ensure the correct management of potential cases of concussion," FIFA said in a statement.

UEFA adopted the three-minute break protocol last week and will apply it in Champions League matches from next week.

In the World Cup final, Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer played on for 14 minutes against Argentina before being substituted when clearly disorientated.

FIFA's lack of formal rules was highlighted when Uruguay defender Alvaro Pereira ignored his team doctor's advice to be substituted. Pereira appeared to be briefly unconscious when accidentally struck in the head by an England player's knee.

The updated protocol gives team doctors more authority.

"The referee will only allow the injured party to continue playing with the authorization of the team doctor, who will have the final decision," FIFA said.

In other decisions from the medical meeting Monday, the panel advised against travel bans for African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak.

The Confederation of African Football has banned international matches in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

However, the panel "advised the postponement of any non-essential and non-urgent FIFA courses there," FIFA said.

FIFA security director Ralf Mutschke had been due in Sierra Leone to help investigate an alleged attempt to fix a 2010 World Cup qualifying match.

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