What to do
To get more information out to referees about concussion injuries, Northern Virginia Soccer Club has compiled the following information and has provided additional guidelines:
Contact between players is a given in the game of soccer. Unfortunately, some of this contact can result in player injury. One of the most difficult injuries to detect, and potentially dangerous, is the concussion. A concussion is a brain injury that is characterized by an onset of impairment of cognitive and/or physical functioning, and is caused by a blow to the head, face, or neck, or a blow to the body that causes a sudden jarring of the head (e.g., a helmet to the head, being knocked to the ground, being kicked). A concussion can occur with or without loss of consciousness.
Located on the left side of this page are links to fact sheets and other reference information for coaches, athletes and parents. Though most of the information has been developed for those three groups; until approved referee specific training has been developed by the state or US Soccer we recommend that referees refer to the information that is designed for coaches.
Law 5 - The Referee
The powers and duties granted to referees under law five do not directly speak to concussion injuries. What it does stipulate:
The referee stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that the player is removed from the field of play.
For serious injuries, a player is removed from the field. Since we know that concussions can be very serious, then it would be prudent to have the player removed from the field if the player received a blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body that causes a sudden jarring of the head. This would allow for the appropriate assessment of the player by team officials.
If the referee observes this type of contact between players or a player and the ground or other object, then he should stop play and allow the coach to enter the field to assess the players condition. The coach would have a better chance of determining that the player may be suffering from a concussion as he would be more familiar with the player.
As with most of what the referee does, this is a judgement he will make during the game. In the process of making that judgement, he will also need to consider the age group, speed of play and the level of play. Not all contact is going to result in the stoppage of play, though we would expect the referee to error on the side of caution when it comes to head injuries.
Review: Possible Concussion from -
Blow to the head, face or neck or
Blow to the body (from another player, the ground or other object) that causes a sudden jarring of the head.
With recreational soccer always remember; Safety first, Safety second, the rest of the game is third.