PFA call on football's stakeholders to create a care fund to support players living with dementia


PFA call on football’s stakeholders to create a care fund to support former players living with dementia

  • The PFA have called on football chiefs to create a dementia care fund for players
  • The new appeal follows talks with CEOs from The FA, Premier League and EFL 
  • New chief executive Maheta Molango is heavily involved in the push to the fund
  •  But Molango is struggling with limitations and has no sway over the allocation

The PFA have called on football’s stakeholders to come together to create an industry-wide dementia care fund to support former players living with dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

New PFA chief executive Maheta Molango is heavily involved in the push for a care fund, the details of which the players’ union feel can be confirmed in due course. 

It comes after Sportsmail revealed the limitations that Molango was working with, as he holds no sway over the allocation of funding.

The PFA have called on football's stakeholders to come together to create an industry-wide dementia care fund for former players living with dementia

The PFA have called on football’s stakeholders to come together to create an industry-wide dementia care fund for former players living with dementia

PFA chief executive Maheta Molango is heavily pushing for the players' dementia care fund

PFA chief executive Maheta Molango is heavily pushing for the players’ dementia care fund 

Molango, who joined the organisation in summer, said: ‘I have been pleased to see how all the English football organisations have been working on a joint approach to this issue. 

‘It’s great that the entire football family has come together to raise awareness of neurodegenerative conditions, improve education about these illnesses and crucially, find ways to support current and former players living with or at risk of dementia and other conditions. 

‘When I initially joined the PFA as CEO, one of my first priorities was for myself and PFA Chairman, John Mousinho, to meet with families to better understand their needs. 

English football organisations have been working on a joint approach to support current and former players with or at risk of dementia and other conditions

English football organisations have been working on a joint approach to support current and former players with or at risk of dementia and other conditions 

‘The PFA will always be an advocate for former players living with neurodegenerative conditions and their families, so now we must consult with them before finalising the parameters of our joint action plan to ensure PFA members have access to the best care possible.’

The renewed appeal follows months of talks with the major organisations in the game, including CEOs from The FA, Premier League and EFL, where commitment to this level of support has been provisionally agreed. 

The FA and the PFA published a study that revealed that ex-professional Scottish footballers born between 1900 and 1976 had an approximately 3.5x increased risk of having dementia as a cause of death.

Since the report, he PFA has been calling for the entire football family to collaborate on a joint response to the issue.

Research has found that footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to die from degenerative brain diseases

Research has found that footballers are three-and-a-half times more likely to die from degenerative brain diseases

Following months of discussions, a draft action is in the process of being agreed, with full details to be confirmed once football families living with dementia have confirmed the proposal meets their needs. 

Over the last ten months, the PFA has worked closely with the other football stakeholders on an action plan to best protect our members in the area of brain health. 

The collaboration has led to the adoption of heading guidelines across the leagues, commitment to further research programmes and concussion protocols now in place at all clubs. 

STRONG LINK BETWEEN HEADING AND BRAIN DISEASE

Neuropathologist, Dr Willie Stewart, has established former players are 3.5 times more likely to die of neurodegenerative diseases than the general public.

Dr Stewart is one of the leading experts on the link between football and dementia having studied the medical records of 7,676 men who played professionally between 1900 and 1976.

In addition, the scientist also conducted tests on the brain tissue of the celebrated West Bromwich Albion centre forward, Jeff Astle, in 2014, concluding the striker suffered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition traditionally associated with boxers. 

The University of Glasgow academic told the MPs earlier this year that while it will be difficult to demonstrate a direct causal link between heading a football and suffering dementia forty years later, he said, ‘on a balance of probabilities, I think we are there’.

MPs on the Digital, Culture Media and Sport select committee has been investigating the link between sport and brain disease.

It has heard from experts and campaigners, including Dawn Astle, the daughter of West Bromwich Albion forward, Jeff.

Jeff Astle died Astle aged 59 in 2002 from a degenerative brain disease due to heading the ball and Dawn has been an indefatigable campaigner.

His daughter told MPs she had taken up the campaign over football and dementia after her father had been badly let down.

‘Football doesn’t want to think that football can be a killer. But I know it can be, because it’s on my dad’s death certificate,’ she said.

‘I want to make sure players affected are looked after properly,’ she added. ‘And I want to make sure the game is safe for players now and in the future.

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