England record scorer Wayne Rooney has said children should be banned from directing the ball, like the United States, to reduce the risk of dementia later in life. Former Barcelona and England star Gary Lineker and 1966 World Cup winner Geoff Hurst are among the big names who have called for new regulations to prevent children from directing the balls. A study in Scotland concluded that professional footballers are around three and a half times more likely to die from dementia than the general population. Rooney told the Daily Telegraph that he witnessed America’s rules firsthand with his son Kai when playing for the MLS DC United franchise.
“When we lived in the United States my oldest son was on a soccer team and the lead was off in training and in games,” said Rooney, who now plays for the Derby Championship.
“If the ball came to their head, they walked away from it and let it pass, so maybe that’s something that could happen more regularly here.”
“Obviously something has to change so that doesn’t happen to the next generation of players when young men die of this disease.”
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has also said the cap reduction could be part of the training sessions.
“I think it’s viable,” he said.
“We have to start with the youth football and at the youth end the children who are developing and their bodies are developing.”
“We can really control training levels and I’m not technically sure how important it is to overload training at this age.”
“If we now know there is a health aspect, then we can control it.”
Former Rooney United teammate Newcastle manager Steve Bruce was a renowned ball header.
Bruce praised the Professional Footballers’ Association’s announcement that it is setting up a task force to look into the matter.
“In my career, and every day when I was young, we ran a ball in the gym and we ran outside and rehearsed it hour after hour,” Bruce said on Friday.
“There is real concern, when you see players before my time, so why wouldn’t that affect my time?”
The family of another 1966 World Cup winner Nobby Stiles, who died last month at the age of 78 after living with dementia in his later years, are furious that former players struggling with this disease does not receive any financial support from the PFA.
“How can it be fair that some of the heroes of 1966 had to sell their medals (like Stiles) to support families?” they said this week.
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