Skip to content

Romelu Lukaku situation shows need for Premier League concussion policy

Sep 26, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

After Romelu Lukaku scored the winning goal in Everton’s 3-2 win over West Ham, he admitted he could not remember anything about the play.

“Nothing,” he said. “I didn’t even know that I scored. … I didn’t remember what happened for a couple of seconds, and then I woke up, and they said I scored.”

If Lukaku was unconscious, that makes the decision to put him back on the field that much more irresponsible. Everton had used all three of its substitutes at the time of his injury, and taking him off would have meant playing a man down with a slim lead in the dying minutes away from home.

The 2013-14 Premier League Handbook outlines the thinnest definition of a head injury policy:

Any Player, whether engaged in a League Match, any other match or in training, who having sustained a head injury leaves the field of play, shall not be allowed to resume playing or training (as the case may be) until he has been examined by a medical practitioner and declared fit to do so.

That’s all there is to it: No definition of “medical practitioner” or clarification of what constitutes an examination or what it means to be “declared fit.” Athletic trainers and physiotherapists have some level of understand of concussions, but their knowledge doesn’t run as deep as a medical doctor’s, and an examination on the side of a field in a noisy stadium is not the same as a thorough evaluation in a quiet room.

This is one aspect that Major League Soccer gets right. Every club puts its players through baseline testing before the season begins, and even after they are symptom-free following a head injury, they have to see a neuropsychologist for more strenuous testing before being allowed to return to any activity, let alone full training.

The current MLS concussion protocol came into effect in 2011, and baseline testing began to be a routine measure in 2007.

As for Lukaku, not only did he finish the match against West Ham on Saturday, but he also played 90 minutes in a 2-1 League Cup loss to Fulham on Tuesday. Had he suffered another blow to the head in those approximately 95 minutes or in training between the original injury and the (now extended) time until he makes a full recovery, the situation would only get worse.

Coming back too early from a concussion can have long-term cognitive effects in adults, and it is downright deadly for children. Just ask Taylor Twellman, the outspoken ESPN analyst and former New England Revolution forward whose promising career was cut short by concussion-related symptoms.

The Premier League’s 54-word, one-sentence policy on head injuries is simply not enough.

Latest Posts
  1. MLS Snapshot: Columbus Crew 2-2 Chicago Fire

    May 22, 2015, 10:31 PM EDT

    Toronto FC v Chicago Fire Getty Images

    Final: Columbus Crew 2-2 Chicago Fire

  2. Paris Saint-Germain submit $137,662,500 bid for Cristiano Ronaldo

    May 22, 2015, 9:52 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    PSG is willing to dish out the cash to bring Ronaldo to France. The problem? He would have to leave his built-up glory at Madrid behind him.

  3. PST Extra: High stakes for Hull City, Newcastle as relegation looms

    May 22, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    Hull City v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    PST’s Joe-Prince Wright discussed the final relegation battle between Hull City and Newcastle United.

  4. Roberto Mancini hoping for Inter revival through transfers: “It won’t be easy”

    May 22, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT

    Parma FC v AS Roma - Serie A Getty Images

    Mancini: “If we find players with the right characteristics, we’ll be able to improve the existing players in our squad as well. It won’t be easy….”

  5. Hervé Renard quits as Ivory Coast manager, expected to join French side Lille

    May 22, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT

    herve-renard_1t6shrsqreusp1jyiv4zvva8cz Getty Images

    Ivory Coast manager Hervé Renard is leaving on good terms and with a new challenge ahead of him at Lille.

  6. 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Mexico names Chicharito, Carlos Vela, others on roster

    May 22, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    Chicharito Getty Images

    Mexico will have a roster full of their talent from Europe for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

  7. Despite calling himself the “godfather” of women’s soccer, Sepp Blatter didn’t recognize Alex Morgan

    May 22, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    FIFA President Sepp Blatter addresses the media in Zurich Reuters

    FIFA president Blatter called himself the “godfather” of women’s soccer earlier this month, yet he couldn’t recognize one of the biggest stars in the game.

  8. Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Sunderland

    May 22, 2015, 4:40 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Preview of Chelsea-Sunderland match on Championship Sunday, available to watch on NBCSN beginning at 10 a.m. ET.

  9. Americans Abroad preview: Guzan benched, Friedel could make farewell appearance

    May 22, 2015, 3:54 PM EDT

    Colchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    As usual, several Americans are ready to take the pitch in Europe this weekend.

  10. Premier League Preview: Newcastle United vs. West Ham United

    May 22, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    Newcastle United v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Getty Images

    If the Magpies win they will survive on the final day. Watch them host West Ham live on USA, online via Live Extra, 10 a.m. ET.

  11. Report: Bad-boy Dani Osvaldo linked with move to New York Red Bulls

    May 22, 2015, 2:52 PM EDT

    Dani Osvaldo, Inter Milan Dani Osvaldo, Inter Milan

    Are the Red Bulls willing to take a risk on Osvaldo to bolster their attacking options?

  12. Premier League Preview: Hull City vs. Manchester United

    May 22, 2015, 2:08 PM EDT

    Tottenham Hotspur v Hull City - Premier League Getty Images

    Can the Tigers pull off a “great escape” on the final day? Watch live on NBC at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday.

  13. Louis van Gaal believes David De Gea will stay at Manchester United

    May 22, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League Getty Images

    The Red Devils boss is confident DDG will be around next season.

  14. TV SCHEDULE: Premier League finale – 10 games, 10 channels on Championship Sunday

    May 22, 2015, 12:40 PM EDT

    CFnp4ZXUMAEF99h

    Here’s how and where to watch every PL game on the final day of the season.

  15. Geoff Cameron takes us behind-the-scenes at Stoke City

    May 22, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    Geoff is finishing the season strong and is working on his upper-body. Geoff is finishing the season strong and is working on his upper-body.

    In his latest blog, our man in the PL gives us a glimpse of what life is like at Stoke’s training ground.

  16. MLS gossip: Del Piero, Cisse, De Rossi all linked with moves to the US

    May 22, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    UEFA Champions League Final - AC Milan v Liverpool Getty Images

    It’s that time of year again ladies and gents. Get ready for the rumors regarding European veterans heading to MLS.

  17. David Luiz hits out, dismisses reports of him being a “virgin”

    May 22, 2015, 9:56 AM EDT

    FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-LIGUE2-UNFP-AWARDS FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-LIGUE2-UNFP-AWARDS

    The Brazilian defender wants to put the record straight. David, over to you…

  18. Jose Mourinho, Eden Hazard win Premier League Manager, Player of the Year awards

    May 22, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    After already winning two trophies this season, Chelsea cleaned up once again.

  19. Brendan Rodgers insists Raheem Sterling will remain at Liverpool

    May 22, 2015, 8:20 AM EDT

    Liverpool Training Session Liverpool Training Session

    After Sterling’s agent says his client will not sign a new deal at Liverpool, Reds boss is adamant he will remain at Anfield.

Featured video

PST Extra: Relegation drama on final day