Chris Sutton accuses UEFA of putting lives at risk… after Arsenal were REFUSED the chance to replace Beth Mead with a concussion substitute in their Champions League clash with Ajax
- Beth Mead suffered a head injury during Arsenal’s game against Ajax
- The Gunners wanted to replace her but had no substitutes left to make
- They tried to make a concussion substitute but UEFA wouldn’t allow it
- Chris Sutton has hit out at UEFA for potentially putting lives at risk
UEFA have been accused of putting players’ lives at risk due to their lack of concussion substitute protocols.
England star Beth Mead suffered a head injury during Arsenal’s Champions League game at Ajax on Wednesday but the forward was unable to be substituted as Arsenal had already used all of their regulation subs.
Gunners boss Jonas Eidevall had readied Lina Hurtig as an 87th-minute concussion substitution but reacted angrily when informed that the replacement would not be possible, saying: ‘What do you mean, “no?!”.’
Mead (right) departed for her own safety but Arsenal were forced to finish the match with 10 players, seeing out a 1-0 victory and 3-2 on aggregate.
‘What an awful, treacherous, ignorant, potentially deadly decision it is for these competitions to not have any form of safety net to support those suspected of concussion,’ said Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton, a vigorous campaigner on head injuries in football.
‘It’s in the Premier League, Women’s Super League and other competitions. But it isn’t in European football. Arsenal finished with 10 players as Mead departed and no one replaced her. The club did the right thing and yet they were effectively punished for it by finishing their fixture shy a body.
‘What if, the next time this happens in a Champions League game, that potentially concussed player doesn’t want to leave the pitch? What if they stay on? What if they hurt their already vulnerable head again?
Beth Mead suffered a head injury during Arsenal’s game against Ajax on Wednesday
Jonas Eidevall wanted to make a concussion substitution but UEFA wouldn’t allow him to
‘I don’t necessarily think extra permanent concussion substitutes are the way forward — I prefer the temporary option, where a player is replaced for at least 10 minutes while he or she is assessed in private. But to have nothing at all? That’s just downright dangerous and UEFA should be ashamed.’
The trial of concussion substitutes will continue in the Premier League and Women’s Super League until the end of this season at least. But UEFA have no plans to introduce it to their tournaments, despite Wednesday’s controversy.
Eidevall said of head injuries: ‘It can have impact for the rest of your life, so that means the decisions need to be very good to not staying on.’
Chris Sutton, a vigorous campaigner for head injuries in football has hit out at UEFA’s decision to not allow the concussion substitution to take place
There was further controversy after it emerged that the goalposts at De Toekomst Stadium were 10cm too small, before being fixed during the pre-match warm-up.
In a statement, Ajax admitted there had been an error following maintenance work.
‘We obviously regret this and will adjust the procedure to avoid this kind of incident in the future,’ the club said.