Former Arsenal striker, Alan Smith, wants a more thorough investigation into the damage heading causes in football.
Smith believes that the threat of long-term brain damage to players needs to acknowledged and more thoroughly investigated.
He shares concerns with another former striker, Alan Shearer, about the effects that heading a football can have on the health of one’s brain.
“I played in an era when the balls were lighter but I’d hate to think that I would suffer because of that in later life,” he said, as reported by ESPN.
“It’s an issue that’s not always been bubbling under in recent times. Jeff Astle’s family have obviously been at the forefront, They want more investigations into the link between heading and brain disease – and I’m all for that. I certainly don’t think we should be brushing this under the carpet.
“I saw the film Concussion a couple of years back, with Will Smith, and the surgeon then had a real battle on his hands with the NFL for them to admit any link with the sport and brain damage. So we’ve got to face up to it, there’s no question.”
According to ESPN’s report, a new investigation into the connections between heading the ball and degenerative brain disease will be launched in the coming weeks.
The study is jointly commissioned by the FA and the PFA, and is said to be the most comprehensive of its kind.
The two governing bodies had been criticised for their lack of urgency and interest in the matter before hand.
The investigation was pushed heavily by the family of former West Brom striker, Jeff Astle.
Astle passed away in 2002 due to a degenerative brain disease, caused by repeated heading of a leather football according to the coroner. Since then, his family have called for more investigations into the potentially damaging effects heading a ball can have on a player’s long term health.
The FA claims it is committed to the research in a field that they are passionate about.
“This is a crucial issue for the FA and one that we feel passionately about addressing,” said the FA’s head of medicine, Dr. Charlotte Cowie.
“Player welfare is paramount and it is increasingly important that the football authorities investigate further whether there are any potential risks associated with heading the ball, as this is a unique feature of our game.”
The study is expected to take three to four years to produce its initial results.