In response to a class-action lawsuit that sought rules changes and a reduction in concussions, U.S. Soccer announced guidelines on Monday that will prohibit young players from heading the ball.
The announced changes will strictly prohibit players younger than 11 from heading the ball, and reduce the amount of headers in practice for players aged 11 to 13.
The regulations will be mandatory for U.S. Soccer youth national teams, as well as MLS youth club teams. Other soccer associations not under U.S. Soccer control are not subject to these regulations, but can use them as guidelines.
According to the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s Founding Medical Director Robert Cantu, limiting headers can have an impact on concussion incidence.
“We’re thrilled that progress is being made, but there is more we can do," said Cantu. "Research has shown that delaying the introduction of headers to age 14 would prevent over 35,000 concussions in middle school players per year. These new rules still leave many of those middle schoolers at risk, so we will continue to campaign to raise the age further."
According to the New York Times, Steve Berman, the lawyer who brought the case, considers the lawsuit resolved.
“With the development of the youth concussion initiative by U.S. Soccer and its youth members, we feel we have accomplished our primary goal and, therefore, do not see any need to continue the pursuit of the litigation,” Berman said in a statement.