Governing bodies turning a blind eye to brain damage epidemic in sport - MPs

George North is among a host of rugby players who have had problems with concussion in their career. Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK have called for a standardised protocol for concussion in sport.

Tom Watson, the deputy Labour Party leader, has called for sports governing bodies to introduce a single unified concussion protocol after accusing football of "turning a blind eye to the brain injury epidemic."

"We need a simple set of protocols applying to every sport at every level across the UK," MP Chris Bryant said as reported by the BBC. With Watson adding "undoubtedly there will be fatalities" if the situation does not improve.

A report published last month by the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Acquired Brain Injury stated there was "poor awareness" and "lack of knowledge" in managing sports concussions.

Although many sports governing bodies have their own concussion protocols, there is no standardised procedure. And it is thought that a lack of consistency is causing confusion and is ultimately a danger to players' welfare.

There is particular concern around concussion care within football, following a report from the New York Hospital for Special Surgery found that concussion protocol was ineffective in two thirds of cases from the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Notably, the case of Nordin Amrabat who was allowed to play in Morocco's game against Portugal five days after suffering concussion, despite FIFA guidelines stating that players should rest for at least six.

Currently, it is ultimately the decision of the team doctors to decide when a player with concussion can return to the field. Watson added: "It's simply pot luck how safe your sport is in the UK. If you're lucky, you play a sport where they take concussion seriously and at a level that provides support, but for far too many people their governing body is turning a blind eye."