France are expected to start Blaise Matuidi in Sunday’s World Cup final despite the concerns of concussion campaigners after he forced off during Tuesday’s victory against Belgium following a heavy collision with Eden Hazard.
Although Hazard smashed into Matuidi’s body, the force of the impact knocked the France midfielder back sharply and he clearly looked dazed. He was treated on the touchline by French medics before re-entering the field of play. He then slumped back to the floor and was substituted.
Campaigners have highlighted subsequent footage of him appearing to miss his mouth while attempting to take a drink.
According to sources close to the France camp, Matuidi has been feeling better and, with the impact being close to his chest, it is understood that a concussion has not been diagnosed.
Fifa’s guidelines clearly state that any player who has suffered a suspected concussion should not again play for at least six days. However, Fifa allow those doctors who are employed by individual teams to make the judgements.
Campaigners have been calling for decisions to be made by an independent doctor free from the potential pressures of selection. It all follows several incidents already in this tournament, notably when Morocco’s Nordin Amrabat played five days after suffering a concussion.
Taylor Twellman’s own career was ended following serious head injuries and he is concerned that Fifa will only start enforcing their guidelines after a player is seriously hurt.
He is particularly concerned by what is called ‘second impact syndrome’ and the potentially devastating consequences of further blows or jarring to a player’s head soon after an incident. “The World Cup is bigger than any stage,” he said. “What we have seen is hypocritical, pathetic and a straight middle finger to the players.”