Sir Alex Ferguson is trending on twitter tonight after urging the FA to ban Swansea’s Ashley Williams for kicking the ball at Robin van Persie’s head and claiming it could have killed his Manchester United striker.
Buffoons like Piers Morgan – one of RVP’s biggest fans before he was sold to united by Arsenal – were quick to ridicule Sir Alex, claiming it was a gross overreaction. The former Daily Mirror editor described Fergie’s rant as a “meltdown” and urged followers to re-tweet his verdict that this was the “craziest statement in football history.”
But let’s hang on a minute here before we accept the partisan ramblings of a critic who was sacked for publishing fake photographs of military abuse because this is no laughing matter. The truth is brain damage caused by the impact of the football is a matter of growing concern in the sport and many scientists are trying to get this recognised.
Lying prone on the ground with the play stopped by the referee after a challenge on the edge of the Swansea penalty box, van Persie felt the full force of the ball smashed against his head by Williams.
Fumed Ferguson: “Robin van Persie is lucky to be alive. It was a disgraceful act from their player. He should be banned by the FA. Robin could have had a broken neck.”
United’s furious manager insisted Williams had deliberately aimed the ball at Van Persie, who clearly drew the same conclusion when he reacted furiously. Referee Michael Oliver also saw it that way, booking the Swans’ defender and the Dutchman for his response.
Williams’ claim that it was an accident was not convincing and the video suggests otherwise.
Meanwhile, the seriousness of brain injury caused by the impact of the football is causing increasing concern in the medical profession. In a recent study, Dr. Michael Lipton, of the Albert Einstien College of Medicine states that “repeated heading could set off a cascade of responses that could lead to degeneration of brain cells”.
In his study, he assessed the brains of 32 amateur soccer players and concluded: “What we’ve shown here is compelling evidence that there are brain changes that look like traumatic brain injury as a result of heading a soccer ball with high frequency. Given that soccer is the most popular sport worldwide and is played extensively by children, these are findings that should be taken into consideration in order to protect soccer players.”
It is widely know that David Beckham can hit the ball at speeds of up to 100 mph. Facts like these and numerous studies are the reason many scientists now believe that brain damage can accumulate from sub-concussive impacts as well as concussions. Sub-concussive impacts are simply impacts to the head that aren’t hard enough to cause a concussion, but still jar the brain a little. Heading the ball qualifies as a sub-concussive hit and today’s impact to the head of van Persie during United’s 1-1 draw in South Wales was an extreme case.