The German football federation confirmed what everyone watching the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina thought Sunday: Christoph Kramer suffered a suspected concussion in a collision with Ezequiel Garay.
“I can’t really remember much of the game,” Kramer told German newspaper Die Welt (via ESPN). “I don’t know anything at all about the first half. I thought later that I left the game immediately after the tackle. I have no idea how I got to the changing rooms. I don’t know anything else. In my head, the game starts from the second half.”
Kramer’s injury was one of a number of head injuries that revived the debate about how the sport deals with concussions. Kramer continued to play for 14 minutes after the collision, as did Javier Mascherano and Pablo Zabaleta after taking hard hits to the head in Argentina’s semifinal. Alvaro Pereira of Uruguay appeared to get completely knocked out in the game against England, yet continued playing after he came to and convinced the attending doctor that he was able to continue.
FIFA’s policy on concussions, which places the onus on team physcians, drew pointed criticism from ESPN’s Taylor Twellman, whose soccer career was ended by a series of concussions and on Sunday he angrily vowed to help change the sport.
Here we go again FIFA…#WorldCupFinal and your ineptitude to address the head injury problem is for everyone to see. Kramer was concussed!
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) July 13, 2014
Before I die, I will get FIFA to change their ways and get an independent doctor on the sideline. Return To Play will change I promise! — Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) July 13, 2014
FIFA guidelines state, ““Do not take a head injury lightly. No match is that important,” but Juliet Macur of the New York Times questioned the treatment of Neymar as well after he suffered a fractured vertebra as well and wondered why FIFA seemingly pays more attention to diving by players than to their health.
It’s a wonder what medical protocols FIFA enforces — if it enforces any at all — when the world is not watching. But it’s a good bet that the federation would have snapped to attention if any of those players had faked an injury.
FIFA and fans have been shouting full-throated demands for rule changes to combat diving. Pretending to be injured to draw a foul is apparently a scourge that must be banished in the game at all costs. FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, has even suggested using video replay to punish it retroactively.
But injuries — including serious ones, like head injuries — haven’t seemed to bring about anything similar in terms of outrage. Players, who make the game so beautiful for its fans, deserve better. FIFPro, the world players union, knows that. It called for an immediate investigation by FIFA into how the Pereira head injury was treated, calling the problem of head injuries in the game “a ticking time bomb.”
At some point FIFA, as the NFL discovered, will have to address the issue.
“I can’t remember very much, but it doesn’t matter now,” Kramer said nonchalantly. “I have to send regards to my grandmother. She has a birthday today and I couldn’t reach her.”