Former England defender Terry Butcher wants heading to be gradually phased out of the sport to reduce the risk of brain trauma and neurodegenerative diseases.
Butcher, 62, was a no-nonsense centre back who was strong in the air and famously suffered a head wound playing for England in a World Cup qualifier in 1989, but stayed on the pitch and ended the game covered in blood.
With several former players, especially from England’s World Cup-winning team of 1966, being diagnosed with dementia, Butcher said he eventually wanted to see no heading in football.
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“I think you have to look at safety, you have to look at families losing their loved ones too early. I think it’s something that has been strong, particularly in Britain, the way that we used to play but not so much now,” Butcher told the BBC.
“I think it’s something that we can do without and then it would rule out the trauma of heading a football, particularly at pace. You’ve got to get some brain trauma in there because your brain is going to rattle against your skull.
“Then of course you’re looking at aerial collisions where you have no real control. I’d like to see it phased out… a gradual process with everybody coming together.”
New research showed former footballers are 3.5 times more likely to die with dementia than the general public and the risk is highest among defenders, who are five times more likely to have dementia than non-footballers.
The Premier League announced recommendations ahead of the new season based on a study and said players should attempt only a “maximum of 10 higher force headers” in a week during training sessions.