With the launch of their first-ever concussion awareness campaign, LALIGA and AFE have reached a landmark moment in the protection of football players' health. The project involves the development of a new concussion procedure, public awareness campaign and training resources. It also integrates the new Video Review System tool, powered by HawkEye and part of the Beyond Stats project with Microsoft, which brings a sophisticated system to the dugouts that allows teams to review incidents in detail and from different viewpoints.
The centrepiece of the project will be the first official campaign from LALIGA and the AFE. It uses the slogan 'Play safe’ and highlights the importance of a safe playing environment in a high-intensity sport such as professional football. The campaign will feature in the locker rooms and training facilities of LALIGA EA SPORTS and LALIGA HYPERMOTION clubs. The new protocol was also developed in collaboration with the clubs' medical services to introduce higher standards for the 2023-24 season.
This initiative stems from the agreement reached between European Leagues and FIFPRO (International Federation of Professional Footballers). The new protocol is based on the International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport (updated in 2022) with the aim of raising the standards for recognition, management and awareness in LALIGA, where the training of all parties involved is of paramount importance.
Thus, as part of the measures, LALIGA and AFE have appointed a medical director responsible for coordinating and training each club's medical team. The medical director and both organisations will be available at all times to support the medical teams of the clubs/SADs in all necessary matters related to the technical training.
Luis Gil, LALIGA Director of Competitions, stressed: "We are very pleased at having been able to combine these new procedures into a long-term project and help ensure compliance with it. All the resources that LALIGA and the AFE have made available to clubs will help players and coaching staff to recognise the five symptoms of concussion after a serious blow to the head, immediately remove the player from the field of play, and further monitor the player in accordance with the highest standards, thus minimising risk”.
Geni Martínez, Director of the AFE's Health Department, emphasised: "The association and LALIGA continue to work to protect the health of football players. That's why it's important to recognise a potential traumatic brain injury. In such cases, a timely withdrawal is a triumph. Normally, a very high percentage of the brain regenerates naturally over the next few days. The dangerous thing is to continue playing and receive another blow to the head if there had been a previous trauma that wasn't detected”.
Video Review System: state-of-the-art technology to support the technical and medical staff
One of the most important developments is the pioneering incorporation of the VRS (Video Review System) in LALIGA. The initiative, developed with HawkEye, is part of the LALIGA and Microsoft project: Beyond Stats. It's a feature that simultaneously provides a large number of live video feeds from those used for broadcasting (TV production picture, master camera, close-up and tactical camera), via a Microsoft Surface Pro touchscreen device.
The device also enables time-delayed playback to review an incident immediately, zoom, looped replays for analysis of an action, multi-screen to view up to 4 different angles simultaneously, as well as other innovative playback controls.
This technology will help detect the classic symptoms of concussion, which generally fall into five main categories:
- Physical: headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, blank stare, blurred vision, oversensitivity to light and/or noise, neck pain, etc.
- Emotional: sadness, depression, anxiety, irritability, aggressiveness.
- Cognitive: loss of consciousness, loss of memory, difficulty concentrating, confusion, uneasiness, delayed responses, slurred speech, disorientation.
- Sleep Disturbance: Drowsiness.
- Impaired Balance: Instability.
The signs and symptoms following a concussion naturally clear within the first 10 days in up to 95% of cases, although in some instances they may last for weeks or even months.
Therefore, the protocol is not limited to the match itself, but stresses the vital importance of daily and continuous monitoring to check the progress of the player, and taking the appropriate decisions at all times with the aim of returning him/her to the field of play in optimal condition.