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Southampton Physios Set the Standard for Concussion Protocols in Football

Southampton Physios Set the Standard for Concussion Protocols in Football

Arsenal and Southampton played out a Premier League Friday Night classic with their thrilling 3-3 draw. Even though it dampened the Gunners’ Premier League title charge, the game itself was a highly exciting one filled with a lot of action.

Even though the majority of the spotlight was put on the six goals, there is one eye-opening incident that took place in the first half. It involved Southampton centre-back Jan Bednarek and Arsenal’s young winger Gabriel Martinelli, one which left the former in a lot of pain.

While contesting in an aerial duel, Martinelli decided to just bow down while the Southampton defender tried using his shoulders as leverage to jump for a header. It ended up with Bednarek falling on his neck and writhing in pain.

This is actually a tactic used by a lot of forwards, prominently by Harry Kane – who often just leans down like this – resulting in centre-backs falling on their upper bodies. However, this isn’t actually an offence in football – which is why Martinelli wasn’t even reprimanded for it.

Bednarek, however, ended up suffering a concussion and was forced to be lying on the pitch quite senseless for an alarming bit of time. The Southampton defender did, ultimately, get up on his feet after receiving treatment from the team doctors before being taken off to the touchline.

The centre-back wasn’t exactly phased by the concussion either and quickly stood up on the throw-in area, ready to come on after receiving treatment. However, the Southampton medical staff refused to let him go back to playing in the game and urged manager Ruben Selles to take him off – using the concussion substitute.

The way in which the situation around Bednarek’s concussion and what happened afterwards is being met with a lot of praise. The Southampton team doctors stood by their values in ensuring that the player didn’t risk even further damage to him or any long-term issues by allowing him to go back onto the pitch after suffering a concussion.

Footballers have had an ugly history when it comes to concussions. A concussion is an injury to the brain which is often suffered when one smacks their head or face against something.

If not treated right, Concussions can often lead to long-term brain damage for players and leave them exposed to a variety of brain injuries in the future. Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Ryan Mason had to retire from football prematurely due to a head injury.

There has been a lot of praise over how the Bednarek situation was handled by all respective parties. The centre-back has been hailed for showing his guts in wanting to come back and help his side win even after suffering a scary injury. Moreover, the Southampton doctors have received praise for standing their ground and ensuring Bednarek doesn’t suffer even more damage.

Sky Sports pundit and ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville has praised the Southampton medical staff for standing their ground and even the Arsenal team doctor for helping their case, saying: “Bednarek is disappointed but sometimes you just need your medical staff to look after you. He is arguing with his medical team, doctor from the Arsenal team is coming up to him and saying you are off. I don’t like them (falls). Good work from the medical team, they stood their ground, not easy.”

Southampton’s staff made a bold decision to take a key player off, but it was only to ensure his future safety and that this incident causes any long-term damage to him. To their credit, Bednarek’s replacement Duje Caleta-Car ended up scoring Southampton’s third goal and put in a solid shift to help them earn a valuable point from the Emirates Stadium.