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Research Brain injury expert calls for ban on heading in football for under 18s

According to doctors heading football has long-term effects and is caused by repeated head trauma.

  • Published:
play Dr Bennet Omalu, one of the world's leading experts on brain injuries, believes heading is "dangerous" and "does not make sense"

An expert in brain injuries has called for the heading of a football to be restricted and should be completely banned for players below the age of 18.

According to Dr. Bennet Omalu, the head suffers many unrealized injuries when it’s constantly used for heading footballs.

Credited as the man who discovered the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), Dr. Omaöu said the condition has long term effects and is caused by repeated head trauma.

"It does not make sense to control an object travelling at a high velocity with your head," Dr Omalu is quoted as saying by the BBC.

"I believe, eventually, at the professional level we need to restrict heading of the ball. It is dangerous."

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He also advised that heading of a football should be completely banned among players under the age of 18, adding that children between 12 and 14 should also be made to play a non contact form of football.

No child under the age of 18 should be heading the ball in soccer.

"Kids under the age of 12 to 14 should play a less contact form of soccer which we should develop for them. Kids between 12 and 18 can play but should not head the ball.

"I know this is difficult for many people but science evolves. We change with time. Society changes. It is time for us to change some of our ways,“ Dr. Omalu stressed.

His comments come following a series of high profile cases recorded for players who suffered brain damage after the respective football careers.

An inquest into the death of former England and West Brom footballer Jeff Astle ruled he died from brain trauma caused by heading heavy leather footballs.

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Also, 1966 England World Cup winners Nobby Stiles, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson, Liverpool legends Ron Yeats and Tommy Smith and Celtic's European Cup-winning captain Billy McNeill have all been diagnosed with dementia.

Dr. Omalu said the human brain floats inside the head and so it is exposed to damage every time a person heads a ball.

He explained that the consequences may not be evident in the early stages but a player will eventually suffer dementia or CTE when he’s much older.

"The human brain floats like a balloon inside your skull so when you head the ball you suffer brain damage. You damage your brain when you head the ball.

"Playing soccer would increase your risk of suffering brain damage when you are much older and developing dementia and CTE,“ Dr. Omalu added.

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