Britain’s four major soccer associations said Friday they will fund a study to determine if soccer players are at a higher risk of developing dementia. The study will reportedly cost “six figures” and will be conducted by an independent university, the BBC reported.
The Associated Press said that the four associations—England’s Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, the Football Association of Wales, and Northern Ireland’s Irish Football Association—are still finalizing the details of the study.
The initiative was announced amid mounting concern about potential soccer-related brain injury. Last month, researchers from University College London and Britain’s National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery published a study that highlighted the potential brain damage caused by sustaining blows to the head in soccer. That study had some bleak findings (via The Guardian):
Postmortems found that all six had Alzheimer’s disease, while four also showed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a degenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head. Both CTE and Alzheimer’s disease are linked to the build up of clumps of particular proteins in the brain – although the location of these proteins is crucial in diagnosing CTE, which can only be done after death.
The researchers, however, couldn’t draw any definitive conclusions about the connection between soccer and brain damage because of the study’s small sample size, the AP said. The findings prompted UEFA to commission its own study on dementia in soccer players as well, which Europe’s football governing body announced last month.