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Roberto Martinez supports extra concussion substitute

Nov 7, 2013, 7:19 AM EDT

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To them it seems radical. To us it seems sensible.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has put himself out on a bit of a limb by supporting a rule change that would take pressure off managers by allowing an additional substitution if a player suffers a concussion.

While England seems to have mostly rallied in support of Hugo Lloris‘s fight to stay on the pitch after being clocked in the head by Romelu Lukaku, many in the United States have questioned the decision making processes at the top of Tottenham Hotspur’s chain of command during the events.

Martinez made it clear that player health should be made much higher of a priority than it currently is, and that the rules can help take the pressure off managers to keep concussed players in the match:

“If there is a strong view from the medical side that when a player gets concussed he should come off, I think we should look into it and make it a rule. If it comes as a rule with an understanding for everyone that if that happens the player should come off and it shouldn’t count as a substitution, that would be a lot easier. Because if you are put in a position where a player has to come off when three substitutions have been made it is a real shame, as it is going to affect the competition. You wouldn’t want to see a team down to 10 men but the last thing you want is to put the health of any player at risk.”

While a move to change such an integral part of the game would no doubt be met with criticism, it would certainly serve its purpose. Martinez understands that while this may not ultimately be the answer, something needs to be done.

“It is a serious issue which needs to be spoken about and the right decision found from the top” said the Spaniard.

With Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas speaking out in support of his and the players’ decision to remain in the game, it’s nice to see someone support the other side of the story.

And not only has Martinez thrown himself behind player safety, he’s done it from a manager’s perspective, understanding the difficult position that Villas-Boas was put in – late in an important match, when substitutions are a precious, valuable commodity and pressure is high.

The move would have the same effect as Major League Baseball’s recent addition to the disabled list to allow for a 7-day concussion DL – the idea being to take pressure off managers by not forcing their player to miss 15 days despite possibly only needing a week to return from a concussion.

Often players would not get the necessary time off from a head injury because their manager didn’t want to lose them for the full 15 days required when placing a player on the disabled list. The move, while much more minor than the one Martinez is proposing to the sport of soccer, has the same desired effect.

Hopefully this idea is more than just a fleeting mention by a manager, but actually gets some backing from the higher levels of the decision making process.  Good on you, Roberto.

  1. talgrath - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Why would you treat concussion injuries any differently than any other injury? If someone breaks their leg, we don’t expect them to come back on, but we don’t give the manager a free sub either. The whole point of the rule is to force you to balance making that tactical substitution with keeping a substitution handy in case someone goes down injured. That said, I do support any sort of rule that states that concussed players or players that are unconscious should not be allowed back on the field and that the coach must make a substitution, if able.

    • danielofthedale - Nov 7, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      I think I could agree with Roberto, at least in the short term and with a one big caveat there must be an Independent medical professional make the calls on concussions.

      Concussions already are seen as sort of a “second class” injury in sport. When a leg broken everyone sees that and the players know the player can’t continue. A concussion is not as apparent and in a world ruled by toughness and machismo like sports are players don’t want to be seen as weak or giving up when their peers cannot see the injury. If a team has used all three subs a player would be especially worried to give truthful answers about their concussion know that they would put their team at disadvantage by leaving them down a man.

      So have the ability to make the +3 Sub for concussions would allow the players to honestly talk with medical staffers and come out of the game and not put their team at risk and take that hit of precived weakness in the locker room . Now these medical staffers should be independent and not paid by either team as to fain a concussion in order to get a fourth set of fresh legs on the field.

      I don’t think this is the ideal solution to the problem but until players and managers understand and respect the immediate and long term risk that concussions have on players this might be the best solution. Once a concussion is seen as just as legitimate injury as a pull hammy then you could role this rule back.

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