“Shameful”: Concussion Controversy Overshadows England Victory

By Toby Phipps and Thomas Bullock

2KG2W2D Al Rajja, Qatar. 21st Nov, 2022. Soccer, World Cup 2022 in Qatar, England – Iran, preliminary round, Group B, Chalifa International Stadium, Iran’s goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand is treated for an injury. Credit: Robert Michael/dpa/Alamy Live News

Concussion protocol in football is once again being questioned following England’s 6-2 win over Iran in both sides opening games of the tournament. 

The controversy arose after Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand collided with his teammate Majid Hosseini whilst coming for a cross in the early stages of the match. The match was halted for ten minutes as Beiranvand received treatment, appearing to ask to be substituted. Despite the shot stopper being in clear discomfort and bleeding, he was cleared to continue by the Iranian medical team. 

Beiranvand would go down again just minutes after the restart, this time making it clear to the bench he wanted to be withdrawn. He would eventually be stretchered off, replaced by Hossein Hosseini.  

However, the decision not to withdraw Beiranvand earlier has sparked widespread condemnation from fans, former players and concussion experts.  

Former England striker Chris Sutton, scolded the decision saying: 

Alan Shearer was also quick to criticise the decision during the BBC’s half time analysis accused FIFA of “failing their players”.  

FIFA rules on the protocol dealing with concussions begin with ‘observation and recognition’. A pitch side doctor will then monitor the player and look for certain signs or symptoms. This can vary from balance problems and dizziness to grogginess and confusion. If the player is deemed to be showing one or more of these symptoms, they should be immediately removed from the pitch.  

FIFA also added a rule allowing teams to make ‘concussion substitutes’, meaning the team will not lose a substitution if a player is withdrawn through concussion.

Founder of the Concussion Legacy Foundation slammed the decision not to withdraw Beiranvand:

Concussion is a long standing issue that football has yet to get a grip on, with numerous examples every season of players continuing to play despite being down for significant lengths of time.