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Soccer Players file a Class Action Lawsuit against FIFA for Brain Injuries

A group of parents and soccer players has filed a class-action lawsuit in United States District Court in California against the Fèdèration Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), as well as other U.S.-based soccer associations.

The suit alleges that FIFA, and a few American soccer organizations, have been negligent in developing policies to evaluate, manage, and treat head injuries.

FIFA is responsible for the “Laws of the Game” followed by almost every soccer group.

“… FIFA has failed to enact the policies and rules needed to protect soccer players… We believe it is imperative we force these organizations to put a stop to hazardous practices that put players at unnecessary risk.” – Plaintiffs’ attorney Steve W. Berman, Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are not seeking monetary damages. Instead, they request changes to FIFA rules, including:

  • Limiting “headers” for kids under age 17;
  • Changing the substitution rules so a player can come off the field after sustaining a head bump;
  • Providing medical testing for soccer players who competed as far back as 2002, and are now feeling the effects of concussions; and
  • Instituting a procedure that would involve a medical professional to determine if a player should be permitted to continue playing.

Evidently, FIFA’s brain injury guidelines suggest that players are responsible for self-diagnosis. Although FIFA posts guidelines about preventing and treating concussions, it does not have rules directing their treatment.

A class action lawsuit alleges that FIFA has failed to create policies that diagnose and treat brain injuries in soccer players.
A class action lawsuit alleges that FIFA has failed to create policies that diagnose and treat brain injuries in soccer players.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) typically result from a violent blow or jolt to the head. Mild TBI may cause temporary brain dysfunction, while more serious TBI can result in physical damage to the brain, such as bruising, bleeding, and torn tissue.

According to the plaintiffs’ court documents, nearly 50,000 high school soccer players suffered head injuries in 2010.

That’s more head injuries in soccer than in baseball, basketball, softball, and wrestling—combined.

The defendants have 60 days to answer the complaint, and at that time a judge will determine whether or not the case will proceed.

Image courtesy of Paul Gooddy at

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