Doctors’ orders need to be the real advice on what happens next for football players

Hugo Lloris tries to work out where he is probably after asking if he can keep playing for Tottenha

Hugo Lloris tries to work out where he is probably after asking if he can keep playing for Tottenham at Everton. - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Perhaps this subject should’ve been covered on this page a week ago, but I can’t help thinking there are a few good reasons why it still deserves some white space.

Quite a few of Robert Snodgrass’ comments after Norwich City’s thrilling comeback against West Ham were ear-catching – but none more than these…

“I got a sore one against Manchester United,” said Snodgrass. “I actually wanted to stay on the park but the doc said I had to come off. And as you can see, I got a kick in the face today (cue needless point to his by this time hugely swollen nose).”

Allow me to remind you that in the League Cup exit at Old Trafford, Snodgrass left in a neck brace and on oxygen. Carrying on was never an option – just the default reaction of a player who didn’t know where he was, but desperately didn’t want to go anywhere else.

Even if the only things Snodgrass remembered were rising to challenge for the ball, and then the club doctor “foaming at the mouth” trying to help his stricken player.


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It’s the perfect example of a quite simple rule that surely has to be introduced sooner rather than later: do not leave the decision as to whether a player should continue playing after losing consciousness, to the player.

Hugo Lloris’ admirable show of commitment to the Tottenham cause at Everton should have been just that – a show. Not a successful attempt at staying on the pitch.

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Against Newcastle, the Frenchman was withdrawn before kick-off on medical grounds, in turn leaving his manager visibly furious – presumably feeling undermined. Instead, he should realise how out-dated the old sham of ignorant football commitment is. And that goes for the game as a whole.

While the issue is more frequent and of greater significance in sports like rugby and American football, that should almost allow football here to set an example. To be a leader in ensuring players who have suffered concussion are automatically given time to recuperate – as they would with any other injury.

In fact, there is a bigger argument to be had over football and medical conditions for players.

After all, surely there is a current conflict of interest every weekend up and down the leagues. Say a Championship club has a talismanic player who they need playing to help them get promoted – but he is managing a worsening injury.

Knee, ankle, whatever. He can play at his usual level – but it takes pain-relieving injections.

The club needs him to play. The club’s medical staff may not be able to resist the situation of patching up their star man so he is on the pitch – even if he really needs the injury sorted, an operation, rest etc.

Yet shouldn’t it be independent medical advice so that the decision is aimed at what helps the player out in the long-term – or even beyond their playing days?

This is not criticising the vast amount of medical professionals doing fantastic work – and there are so many looking out for the players they manage and help every day. But this is criticising a system that is conflicted in its very nature and starting to look outdated.

The rules of other sports is raising the issue. The Lloris situation pointed to it. Now there need to be changes – before we’re all left wondering why no one altered the status quo.

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