Mr Julian Knight MP


Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

House of Commons




Tuesday 22nd December 2020

Dear Julien,

Re: Possible link to footballers heading the ball and degenerative neurocognitive disease

Earlier today the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport will have received a letter organised by the ex-professional footballer/campaigner Mickey Ambrose and our organisation.

We are delighted to be supporting Mickey, the signatories of that letter and all players and coaches, past and present who have urged football’s authorities to take action on the growing body of evidence that repeatedly heading the ball increases the chances of degenerative neurocognitive disease such as dementia.

Last year, the FA published a landmark study, (the FIELD study) that sought to identify whether there was any link between heading the ball and an increase in the incidence of degenerative neurocognitive disease.

The research found that one in ten (11 per cent) former professional footballers died from dementia, compared to around to one in 33 (3 per cent) for a similar socio-demographically matched sample.

This means that professional footballers in this research sample were 3.5 times more likely to die of dementia.

While the report stopped short of identifying a definitive link, it strongly suggests one exists. The report did not look at the amateur players.

Following the study’s publication, the FA in parallel with UEFA’s medical committee published new guidelines that apply to all young players.

Measures included a complete prohibition of header training for children below the age of 12 and a graduated process to headers there-after.

Like the former professional footballers who signed the letter to Oliver Dowden, we welcome these measures but believe they do not go far enough.

Yours sincerely,

Grahame Morris MP

Peter Bone MP

Hilary Benn MP

Lord Kinnock

Kim Johnson MP

Wera Hobhouse MP

Gavin Newlands MP

Jim Shannon MP

Baroness Jones of Mouslecoomb

Baroness Goudie

Baroness Taylor of Bolton

Barbara Keeley MP

Baroness Brinton

Lord Pendry

Daisy Cooper MP

Claudia Webbe MP

Jamie Stone MP

Baroness Royall

C.C. Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, and members of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Kemp House, 160 City Road, London EC1V 2NX


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