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Southgate commits support to football dementia studies

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The news comes just after concussion substitutes are set to be trialed in the Premier League

England manager Gareth Southgate has committed his support to efforts to establish potential links between neurodegenerative disorders and former professional footballers.

The England manager will take part in one of the FA-backed studies, and has encouraged other ex-players to follow his lead, to enable critical research to take place.

The potential link to neurodegenerative disorders is being explored in independently-led research studies, which are examining former professional footballers for early signs of neurocognitive degeneration.

These include the FOCUS study by The University of Nottingham, funded by The FA and the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA); the HEADING study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, funded by the Drake Foundation; and the FIELD study from Glasgow University.

“This is an incredibly-important issue in our game and I’m very happy to play my part in supporting this research,” says Southgate.

“Having turned 50 last year, I am now eligible to take part in the HEADING study, which could provide crucial and valuable insight to help people who play the game now and in the future.

“I would encourage any former professional footballer who is willing and able to take part in the HEADING or the FOCUS study to do so. Our involvement is absolutely essential if we are to have a greater understanding of this issue, and their support for the studies can be done from their home, either online or over the phone.”

Dr Charlotte Cowie, the FA’s head of medicine, says: “Dementia is a debilitating disease across wider society, and we are doing everything we can to build a greater understanding of what causes the link between neurodegenerative disorders and former professional footballers.

“We have helped to make great strides in our knowledge and insight in this area, however our next step is a crucial one, and it’s not one that we can do alone.

“Simply-put, without the support and involvement of former professional footballers who are over the age of 50, it will be almost impossible to take our research and understanding to the next level.

“I’m very pleased that Gareth Southgate has agreed to support the HEADING study, which is being led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and I hope that it will give encouragement to other former professional footballers to take part in these important research studies as well.”

Former professional footballers are being urged to get involved in research through the following projects:

The University of Nottingham – FOCUS study: visit http://www.sportsarthritisresearchuk.org/research-projects/project-list-2018-2023/focusfootosteoarthritisconcussioninuksoccer.aspx

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine – HEADING study: email [email protected].

The SCORES study, led by the University of East Anglia: visit https://www.uea.ac.uk/about/giving-to-uea/our-causes/scores-dementia-research

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