Ryan Mason: A football course may not exist in 10-15 years

Ryan Mason
Ryan Mason (right) played for Hull before retiring from the game at 26 years old

The direction may not exist in football for 10 to 15 years because of the risk, says former Tottenham and Hall midfielder Ryan Mason.

Mason, who was once imprisoned by England, had to retire from football after fracturing his skull playing for Hull in 2017.

Recent research has shown that footballers are three and a half times more likely to suffer from dementia.

“It wouldn’t surprise me in 10 to 15 years if heading wasn’t involved in the game,” Mason, 29, told BBC Sport.

“The research and the momentum it’s gaining, I think it will probably open up a lot more things that are getting pretty shocking.

“I’m not sure footballers are fully aware of the potential damage. The more research, the more understanding and the more education the current players get here.

“It may even get to the point where you may need to sign something to say I’m fine [playing with the risk].

“It’s really worrying. The problem we have is that you don’t know the effects until you get it later in life.”

The Field study, conducted by neuropathologist Dr. Willie Stewart, found that footballers were more likely to suffer from dementia and other brain injury diseases, but it has not been determined whether this was caused by a concussion from the collision or a repeated kick.

The family of 1966 World Cup winner Nobby Stiles, who was diagnosed with a brain condition linked to repeated blows to the head, believes the title caused him dementia before he died in October.

Changes have already been made in how often children are allowed to head the ball, but there are also concerns about how head injuries are treated in football.

Former Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen said earlier this month that he had been feeling the effects of a concussion for nine months after trying to play during a Champions League match two seasons ago.

To Mason, who said he was “lucky to be alive” after his head-on collision with former Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, Vertonghen’s story “is pretty shocking”.

And it begs the question of why football opted for trials with permanent concussion replacements rather than a temporary one in the rugby federation.

From January, teams will be able to use two additional permanent replacements for head injuries. But the move has been criticized by Stewart and the charity Headway, who believe temporary replacements are a better alternative.

This procedure allows the replacement to go out on the field immediately, allowing the doctor 10 minutes to make an assessment, rather than a permanent option, when the decision is made in a shorter period of time.

The temporary option has drawbacks, according to Football Association chief Charlotte Cowie, as players can sometimes still be allowed to return to the game after a lengthy assessment.

But Mason, who now trains at Tottenham Academy, says the permanent option adds more “pressure” to the decision.

“Why [is football] not following something that is in place and that has succeeded? “, he said.

“Rugby has an established protocol that gives players, the team and the individual the opportunity to go for testing with an independent doctor off the field, where there is no pressure from the manager to return the player to the field – or pressure [from the stands] when the fans return. ”