The Fifa Club World Cup next week in Qatar will be the first football competition to include an extra doctor in the stands – a so-called ‘spotter’ – to help identify injuries, particularly suspected concussions.
The Telegraph reported last month that the NFL were keen to share their experiences with football and, as well as a pitchside doctor who is used to support the club medics, Fifa will now follow American football by positioning an additional independent doctor in the stands.
This medic will have access to a video review display and will be in contact via radio with the pitchside doctors. The move follows concerted calls for better concussion protocols in football from the world players’ union FIFpro, as well as numerous neuropathologists.
They now want other competitions to also adopt the medical ‘spotters’ and for football globally to quickly allow concussion substitutions and the sort of off-field 10 minute head injury assessment period that is used in rugby.
A Fifa spokesperson explained that the additional Fifa doctors would be responsible for checking any potential incidents and, where needed, providing independent advice to the team doctor. Liverpool will be taking part next week in the Club World Cup, when team doctors will also again have access to a medical video replay in the stands and radio communication to their pitchside colleague.