The dementia that stabbed half of England's historic formation... Is it time to abolish the headers?

The dementia that stabbed half of England’s historic formation… Is it time to abolish the headers?

Warning: cephalopods are very harmful to health..and this is no joke

Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between the player’s position in football and the length of his career, and the neurological disease that eventually affects them, which is dementia. A bit like Alzheimer’s, it eats up what’s left of their memory and consciousness until it’s time for them to die.

The Sky Sports investigation confirms that over different periods of time, the results remain the same, as the data includes players from the thirties to the nineties. Jack Charlton and Nobie Styles suffered from the same disease before their deaths, while Sir Bobby Charlton, 84, the legend of Manchester United, was diagnosed with the same disease.

The University of Glasgow research was based on the health records of 8,000 former professionals in Scotland, and found that goalkeepers had the same risk of developing neurological disease as the average person.

Scientist Willie Stewart says that the danger that footballers face can be avoided, but by taking away an integral part of the game of football: the head kicks.

Exactly, while goalkeepers do not face an unusual risk, players on the field face almost 4 times the average person, especially defenders, who face this risk at the end of their lives 5 times the general.

These findings add to previous research on 7,500 former players, who were nearly three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than the average person in the same age group.

The new research shows that despite the technological changes over the ages of football, and despite the obvious improvement in dealing with head injuries over the decades, there is no evidence of a reduced risk of dementia for football players.

Susan Colas, director of Alzheimer’s Research UK, endorsed the report’s findings, saying: “This carefully conducted study of dementia risk for former footballers is a new piece in a large, unsolved puzzle of understanding dementia risk.”

“We will continue to appeal to football governing bodies, players’ associations and governments around the world to help fund dementia research now, not later, and not when it is too late,” she said.

This wave became active after the death of Jack Charlton and Nobby Styles, the two English football legends, who suffered from dementia before death, and Bobby Charlton, Jack’s brother, was also infected with the same disease.

Here, Sky Sports reporter Martha Kellner picked up the thread and found that half of Burnley’s main team in the 1959-1960 coronation season had either died of dementia or had it.

Rob Durst, also from Sky, conducted his research on England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team, reaching the fact that 5 members of this team had dementia, 4 of whom died.

Ray Wilson was the first to die in July 2018, then Martin Peters in December 2019, Jack Charlton in July 2020, and finally Nobi Styles in October of the same year.

“I think we knew they weren’t well,” says Geoff Hurst, the man in the famous 1966 final against Germany, “but it’s always shocking when we hear they’re gone.”

Hearst also talked about the role of the Covid-19 pandemic in keeping people away from each other, and indeed the last two deaths occurred at their peak, which means that he lost his comrades without having the opportunity to check on them one last time.

Let’s face it, these former players weren’t kidnapped in their prime, it might be easy to say they died at very normal ages, but it might just as easily be said that they could have had better mental and neurological health in their last days.

Yes, football would lose a lot of its fun and its usual form without heading, and it may even look like a completely different sport, to the point that in the first year of applying a similar procedure, it would not be surprising to find a defender who subconsciously heads the ball to be surprised by the referee’s whistle, but the question is simple and its answer Simpler.. which one has priority? The game or human health?

The answer began in England already last July, where the Football Association received approval to conduct a trial in the new season to eliminate intentional headshots in the under-12 age groups.

The experiment will start in the 2022-2023 season on an experimental basis, with the aim of permanently canceling the header from the 2023-2024 season if the experiment is successful.

Indeed, the federation has instructed to limit or eliminate headers completely in training, with the aim of facing the health risks related to this part of the game.

The FA described the move in an official statement as “a prudent approach to ensuring the play and enjoyment of football while research into this matter is still ongoing.”

On the other hand, a company is working with Premier League clubs to develop a training program based on virtual reality to avoid headers in training.

It’s going to take some time, but one day we’ll get to a game that’s free of headers and, by extension, free of the risk of dementia.

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