By Ken Reed

U.S. Soccer, in order to resolve a concussion lawsuit, has issued safety guidelines that prohibit players 10 and under from heading the ball and reduce headers in practice for those from age 11 to 13.

Monday’s announcement ends a class-action lawsuit that was filed in August 2014 by a group of parents and players in United States District Court in California. The suit charged negligence in treating and monitoring head injuries. The legal action sought only rule changes, not financial damages.

“With the development of the youth concussion initiative by U.S. Soccer and its youth members, we feel we have accomplished our primary goal …” said Steve Berman, the attorney who brought the case.

The new safety guidelines are indeed a good start. However, they need to be extended to cover high school-age soccer players. The brain is still developing until at least age 18. And a developing brain is more susceptible to brain trauma injuries.

According to the original filing in the case, nearly 50,000 high school soccer players sustained concussions in 2010, which is more than baseball, softball, basketball, and wrestling combined.

Heading restrictions need to be extended beyond age 13.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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