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World Cup sets bad example, says US concussion expert Brazil in mass cull of backroom staff, doubt on Russia 2018 plans

BOSTON, July 16, (Agencies): World Cup organizers repeatedly failed to follow their own concussion protocol and then failed to take advantage of the international interest in the tournament to teach football fans and young players about the dangers of head injuries, US concussion expert Chris Nowinski said Tuesday. “I’m worried about how many kids emulate these athletes. It wasn’t just one athlete hurt; it was one multiplied by 1 million,” Nowinski said. “They didn’t even use a bully pulpit and say: ‘This is unacceptable. “

Several times in the monthlong tournament, players sustained obvious concussions but continued to play — a practice doctors agree can put them at risk of severe brain damage.
In the final, Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer stayed in the game after colliding with Argentina defender Ezequiel Garay. Kramer later had to be helped off the field and said he couldn’t remember much from the collision — signature symptoms of a concussion.
“Clearly if there is a protocol, it isn’t being followed,” Nowinski said.
A college football player turned professional wrestler who retired because of concussions in the ring, Nowinski helped start the Sports Legacy Institute to educate the public about head injuries. The group held a conference Tuesday to roll out its “hit count” initiative to help track and reduce concussions in young athletes.
Although Nowinski is more concerned about amateur players — who might not be able to make decisions about their health, and who aren’t compensated for the damage they may be sustaining — the World Cup injuries to Kramer and others who became disoriented or even unconscious showed that even the pros need to be protected.
“It was a great teaching point: Immediately after the injury, you can’t leave it up to the athlete,” Nowinski said. “Some of these concussions, they clearly weren’t able to make decisions for themselves.”
Brazil continued a mass clearout of their World Cup backroom staff on Tuesday following the resignation of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Team doctor Jose Luis Runco and head of communications Rodrigo Paiva became the latest casualties of a campaign that turned on its head with the 7-1 semi-final mauling at the hands of eventual champions Germany, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said.
Scolari and his assistants went on Monday. Runco was a veteran of the 2002 campaign who had been in the post ever since, Globo reported.
Paiva was suspended during the tournament for striking Chilean player Mauricio Pinilla during their last 16 match, which Brazil narrowly won on penalties. Only head of logistics Guilherme Ribeiro has survived the cull.
The CBF have called a news conference Thursday amid speculation they may appoint former Corinthians coach Tite as Scolari’s successor.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter threw an unexpected seed of doubt into Russia’s preparations for the 2018 World Cup on Monday when he said that FIFA will discuss the possibility of reducing the number of stadiums to be used there in four years time.
Two days after Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko gave media detailed background about Russia’s plans for their World Cup which involves 12 stadiums in 11 cities, Blatter implied that they could be re-examined.
“It’s a footballing country but we will have meetings there in September to see if 12 is the right number and even if they could be reduced to 10.”
His comments came as a complete surprise to Alexei Sorokin, the chief executive officer of the Russian Organising Committee who told reporters: “This is the first I have heard about it, we know nothing about this.” Blatter, speaking at his final media briefing following Germany’s win over Argentina in Sunday’s final, said a FIFA delegation will visit Russia to discuss plans for their finals in September.
Blatter described the Brazil World Cup as “very very special” giving it a mark of 9.25 out of 10 but said he was troubled that it cost in the region of $11 billion to stage. “It’s obvious the World Cup has taken such a dimension that the organisation is a hard work for the organising country and also for the FIFA,” he said.
“FIFA is looking at 2018 now and we are in discussions on what is the ideal number for the organisation and to keep it in such a manner that it’s feasible, reasonable and controllable.
“We are not going to be in a situation as is the case of one, two or even three stadiums in South Africa where it is a problem of what you do with these stadiums,” Blatter said.
Russia president Vladimir Putin was in Rio for Sunday’s World Cup final and held talks with Blatter while he was in the Brazil capital.
Mutko told reporters on Saturday that the country had allocated $20 billion - $9 billion more than Brazil - to staging the tournament.

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