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'It's a scandal' - Stiles' son slams response to football's dementia crisis

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Representatives from the FA, the Premier League, the English Football League, the Women’s Super League and the Professional Footballers’ Association met yesterday for the first time to discuss restrictions on heading in adult training (stock picture)

Representatives from the FA, the Premier League, the English Football League, the Women’s Super League and the Professional Footballers’ Association met yesterday for the first time to discuss restrictions on heading in adult training (stock picture)

Representatives from the FA, the Premier League, the English Football League, the Women’s Super League and the Professional Footballers’ Association met yesterday for the first time to discuss restrictions on heading in adult training (stock picture)

The son of Nobby Stiles has accused the English football authorities of being "all talk" and adopting delaying tactics over the game's dementia crisis after a post-mortem left "no doubt" that the 1966 World Cup winner's death was caused by heading footballs.

Representatives from the FA, the Premier League, the English Football League, the Women's Super League and the Professional Footballers' Association met yesterday for the first time to discuss restrictions on heading in adult training - some 14 months after it was found that former professionals were 3.5 times more likely to die of brain disease.

The governing bodies are not expected to make recommendations until later this season, with the FA head of medicine Dr Charlotte Cowie highlighting the current unknowns and appearing to question whether head impacts lead to dementia.

Dr Willie Stewart, who examined Stiles's brain and oversaw the research which proved football's dementia link, said that it was now "unacceptably poor" for football to say more evidence was needed before making changes.

Chronic

The Stiles family decided to donate Nobby's brain after his death, aged 78, in October. He had been living with dementia for over a decade and Dr Stewart found "extensive" evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a pathology associated with head impacts.

CTE has been found in three-quarters of the footballers' brains that Dr Stewart has examined, including Stiles's former England teammate Jeff Astle, whose death was recorded by a coroner in 2001 as "industrial disease" as a result of heading footballs.

"Since Jeff Astle's diagnosis there has been almost 20 years of players - men and women - playing football at risk," said Nobby's son, John.

"Unprotected. Uninformed. Two generations of players. That's a disgrace. That's a scandal. All they do is talk and put it off when the facts are staring them in the face. They know there is a problem and they don't want to change - that's my opinion.

"They should get some proper money together to help these footballers. There is an immediate need with players who are in the same situation as my family who are looking after people with brain damage."

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Of the suggestion that there is no definite link between heading and dementia, Stiles said: "How can they possibly say that given the findings of my father? The damage happens when they are in their 20s and the symptoms occur when they are in their late 50s and early 60s. That's been the authorities' way out all the way through. I don't see any responsibility being taken."

© Daily Telegraph, London

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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