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Volume 6 No. 192

International Football

Scientists investigating links between heading footballs and dementia "say there is an urgent need for more research," according to the BBC. It follows the screening of a BBC documentary, "Dementia, football and me," featuring former England int'l Alan Shearer. Last year, scientists at Stirling University "found just one session of heading a ball could lead to an immediate decrease in brain function." They said that "more work was needed to assess long-term effects." The documentary, which aired on Sunday, "heard from current and retired professional footballers, the relatives of former players diagnosed with dementia," the FA, the Professional Footballers' Association and scientists in sports medicine. The documentary included footage of Shearer "undergoing tests in a lab at Stirling, where academics have, for the first time, found direct evidence of brain changes immediately after heading a ball" (BBC, 11/13). The BBC also reported PFA CEO Gordon Taylor said that he "does not know how many of its 50,000 members have dementia." The PFA and the FA "have pledged to fund research and support former players with dementia." When the link was made in the U.S. between brain trauma from "repeated blows to the head" and chronic traumatic encephalopathy in retired NFL players, the NFL "quickly set up a compensation fund" worth $750M. Taylor acknowledged that "football needs to do the same sort of investigation into the damage caused by heading," and said that plans are "already in place." He said that the PFA "is looking to build a database of members with dementia," and told Shearer, "It has been put to me that maybe clubs are very wary because there may be compensation" (BBC, 11/12).

'ABOUT TIME': The London INDEPENDENT reported Shearer spoke to families of footballers affected by dementia and underwent various studies, "while also looking at the brains of people" who have suffered CTE from "all walks of life." Speaking in the documentary, Shearer said, "Never ever did I think that heading a football could be dangerous for me." He said, "There's enough money around nowadays in football, just not enough of it has been given to research. It's about time we had more definitive answers" (INDEPENDENT, 11/13).

'MATTER OF URGENCY': In London, Ian Herbert reported FA Chair Greg Clarke will reportedly be asked by a parliamentary watchdog to "reveal when long-awaited research" into possible links between dementia and the sport will be delivered, amid "mounting frustration from ex-players' families who have waited 15 years for answers." Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee Chair Damian Collins said that he will write to Clarke "asking if he can set out the timetable for when this will be delivered." Collins said that the FA "should commission the promised study as a matter of urgency." U.K. Sports Minister Tracey Crouch "is also likely to be asked for her opinion on the dementia issue when she appears before the committee on Tuesday" (DAILY MAIL, 11/12).

Rainbow-colored corner flags will be installed at every lower-league ground as part of LGBT charity Stonewall's Rainbow Laces campaign, the English Football League announced, according to Ben Rumsby of the London TELEGRAPH. The ball-plinth and handshake board used before kickoff of Premier League games will reportedly also feature rainbow colors during the weekend of Nov. 25-26. But the Premier League, which last week announced a a three-year partnership with Stonewall, "will not follow the EFL’s lead in using rainbow corner flags, having already ruled out rainbow flags for assistant referees and rainbow goal nets." Rainbow-colored captains armbands will be used across the entire professional game, following their introduction in the top flight last season, "while rainbow laces will once again be offered to all players" (TELEGRAPH, 11/13).

JOINING THE PROGRAM: SKY SPORTS reported British Triathlon was accepted into the Diversity Champions program established by Stonewall. By joining the Stonewall program, the organization "hopes to create an inclusive and accepting working environment" for athletes, staff and those interested in taking up the sport (SKY SPORTS, 11/13). Premier League side Burnley will host Diversity Day at Saturday's match against Swansea City. The celebration will be supported by anti-discrimination organization Kick It Out. Players will warm up in "One Club for All" T-shirts (Burnley).

Lawyers defending three former FIFA officials at trial on U.S. corruption charges "strove to distance their clients from a scandal that has engulfed the sport" as they delivered opening statements to jurors on Monday. Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith Edelman told jurors that the three men "were part of a conspiracy to take bribes from sports marketing companies in exchange for lucrative marketing rights" to football tournaments, including the Copa América and Copa Libertadores. None of the lawyers for the former officials denied that there was corruption in int'l football, but all told jurors that "their clients had not taken part" (REUTERS, 11/13).

A culture of sacking managers is "severely damaging" English football, League Managers Association CEO Richard Bevan said. Premier League and English Football League clubs employed an average of 12 managers between Oct. '97 and Nov. 1 of this year, a new study found. Bevan said, "Consistently dismissing managers can create an environment of instability within the club. It causes a series of negative consequences" (BBC, 11/13).

The trial of a 28-year-old German-Russian man accused of carrying out a bomb attack on Borussia Dortmund's team bus is set to begin on Dec. 21, Dortmund's regional court announced. The defendant, identified only as Sergej W. in keeping with German privacy law, has been charged with 28 counts of attempted murder, causing an explosion and two counts of serious bodily harm following the attack on BVB's team bus ahead of a Champions League match at home against Monaco in April (, 11/13).