Premier League legend and current Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer has accused footballing bodies of "sweeping under the carpet” concerns that heading the ball can cause dementia.
Shearer remains the top Premier League goalscorer of all time with 260 goals, 46 of which came from headers. He claims he practised heading 150 times a day in training and now fears that it may have led to dementia as he has "a terrible memory."
In an interview with the Mirror, Shearer said:
Nowhere near enough research has been done. The authorities have been very reluctant to find out any answers. They have swept it under the carpet, which is not good enough.
Football must look after old players with dementia and put an end to this sense that once you are done playing, you can be put on the scrapheap.
Shearer has taken part in a new BBC documentary Dementia, Football and Me, which saw him volunteer to undergo brain tests and determine if heading the ball during his career had any detrimental effects. The results of those tests will be revealed on the show.
When you play football as a professional you expect in later life you are going to have problems with your knees, your ankles, or you back, like I have.
But never did I think playing football could be linked to having a brain disease. That is why the research has to be done
The Mirror reports that three members of England’s 1966 World Cup winning squad suffer with dementia or memory problems, as well as at least 375 other players.
The link between heading and possible effects on the brain has received increasing coverage recently. In America, the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative in 2016 banned children under the age of 10 from heading the ball, and limits the amount of time allowed heading the ball to 30 minutes for children aged 11-13.
The programme is set to air on Sunday at 10.30pm. Shearer said his real concern is ensuring football is safe:
It’s a tough game, it’s a brilliant game, but we have to make sure it’s not a killer game.
You can read the full interview here.