Headlines were made when Christian Eriksen collapsed in Denmark's opening Euro 2020 match against Finland in Copenhagen on 11 June 2021 (Euro 2020 was postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19). The world was shocked when it transpired that 29-year-old Eriksen had gone into cardiac arrest on the pitch. That incident highlighted the importance of cardiac screening for all athletes.
But for many others an equally troubling scene was that that played out following the collision between France’s Benjamin Pavard and Germany’s Robin Gosens on 15 June 2021. Immediately after the collision, Pavard fell to the ground, and remained in the prone position. He did not move his hands out to cushion his fall. Interviewed after the game, Pavard said that he had been “a little knocked out for 10 or 15 seconds.”
Headway, a charity with which Shoosmiths works closely, is dedicated to the care and support of people who have sustained a brain injury. They noted that Pavard received only three minutes of treatment before being allowed to return to the game. Peter McCabe, the chief executive of Headway, said: “The way this incident was handled was sickening to watch.”
This comes not long after the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee announced that they will be launching a “Concussion in Sport” inquiry to examine the scientific evidence for links between head trauma and dementia and how these risks could be mitigated. What is more, both the English and World Players’ football unions wrote to the International Football Association Board in April asking it to extend the scope of its trials to cover temporary concussion substitutes, warning that the current protocols ‘jeopardised players’ health.’
Clearly this is an issue which has been at the forefront of concern in sport for some time, and the incident with Pavard has highlighted the risks of serious injury. Read more about Sporting head injuries and dementia in Tom Iannaccone's (paralegal in our serious injury team) recent article highlighting the growing media coverage surrounding head injuries sustained during sport, and the possible links to dementia.
It is good to see that there is increased awareness around the potential for head injuries which can be experienced when taking part in professional sports. However, given the complex nature of these injuries, it is extremely important that people who have suffered a head injury seek assistance from medical experts in the field. The correct treatment, at the correct time, is paramount.
Kate Price-Marson, a Birmingham based serious injuries specialist solicitor said: “If there are failings with respect to the timing and type of treatment provided for a head injury, the results can be catastrophic. Each person must be assessed on an individual basis, as no injury is the same. That’s why Shoosmiths works alongside medical experts to identify errors and, where appropriate, ensure that rehabilitation to suit the type of head injury experienced is tailored to that individual and implemented properly.”
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2023