Sportsmail Dementia Campaign – ONE YEAR LATER: PFA is approaching a plan for a care fund while making changes to the game to help prevent the disease … but much more remains to be done
- Sportsmail asked football to finally face its dementia crisis a year ago
- Significant progress has been made, but there is still a demand for more action.
- Chris Sutton has led the campaign and wants to do more
Thursday marks the first anniversary of Sportsmail’s campaign in which football is asked to finally confront its crisis of dementia, with significant progress but with a constant demand for more action.
In November 2020, this newspaper, along with columnist and former player Chris Sutton and medical experts, released a seven-point letter amid a scandal in which the game turned its back on the scores of former players suffering from degenerative brain diseases and your loved ones.
Twelve months later there have been big strides forward, but Sutton, whose father, former footballer Mike, passed away after a long battle with dementia last Boxing Day, wants more action.
Sportsmail called on soccer to finally address its dementia crisis a year ago, with significant progress but continued demand for more action.
“What a promising, pathetic, inspiring, infuriating, terrific and yet downright fucking year it has been,” he writes in a frank and powerful piece.
‘Forgive me for writing such a contradictory sentence, but it’s hard to sum up how I feel. I am happy, because the authorities have finally deigned to lift a finger. I’m sad, because decades spent sitting on their hands and there is still much more to do. ‘
One of the seven areas that has not seen the change we demand has been the well-being of the current player. Backed by medical experts, we ask IFAB legislators to introduce temporary surrogates for concussion. Instead, the Premier League is testing additional permanent subscriptions.
Dr. Willie Stewart, whose groundbreaking study identified ex-footballers’ increased risk of dying from a neurodegenerative disease, said: “It’s very easy to solve. We hear that they don’t want the game at the highest level to be different from grassroots, but that’s silly. And the VAR? Goal line technology? It will always be different. ‘
Other calls have been answered. The Professional Footballers Association has increased funding for research, created a dementia team and, following discussions with the Premier League, the EFL and the FA, are about to agree on a draft plan of action on a care fund for ex-footballers with dementia.
The PFA is also helping fund social events for patients and their caregivers, and course limits have been introduced in training.
Calls continue for dementia to be recognized as an industrial disease. There is hope in Scotland, where Labor MSP Michael Marra has led the charge, saying players “unknowingly sacrificed their health for our entertainment.”