CHRIS SUTTON: Dementia affects many players in football pyramid

CHRIS SUTTON: Denis Law’s sad dementia diagnosis has brought up links of the illness with football once again… but we need to remember this dreadful disease also affects many players and families lower down the pyramid too who have had little help

  • It’s a shame we’re here 20 years after dementia and football were linked
  • Football authorities have acted but they need to deal with this quicker
  • Families are getting more support but there is much more needed to be done
  • Dementia is affecting past footballers lower down the football pyramid too
  • Past players are dying in the most horrible manner – we need to do something 

I am really, really sorry to hear about Denis Law. This is a tough disease to deal with, it gets progressively worse and there’s a tough battle ahead. I’m thinking of him and his family.

Denis was a brilliant goalscorer. My dad always told me about how prolific he was, and what a naturally gifted player too.

It’s not a surprise that more and more footballers are being diagnosed with dementia. Denis is now the sixth member of Manchester United’s 1968 European Cup-winning squad to be diagnosed — that’s pretty alarming.

Manchester United’s legendary forward Denis Law has revealed that he is battling dementia

Law is now the sixth member of Manchester United ‘s 1968 European Cup-winning squad (above) to be diagnosed

It’s a shame that we’re here 20 years after Dawn Astle flagged this up. There is action taking place with regards to limiting heading for children and now in the Premier League. The authorities were called out at the recent parliamentary hearing into dementia in football and they’re slowly getting their backsides into gear.

The truth is they need to get on and deal with it quicker. It’s good what’s happening with the PFA and their new chief executive Maheta Molango — let’s hope he steps up. Families are getting more support but there is so much more that needs to be done.

It always seems to take a high-profile player to come out to make people sit up and take notice. Dementia doesn’t just affect the great players, it filters all the way down the football pyramid and there are families out there who still haven’t had enough help.

New PFA chief executive Maheta Molango will be hoping to tackle football’s dementia problem

A large part of the change being enacted is because of Sportsmail‘s campaign — the authorities have been embarrassed into action.

It’s good that there are high-profile figures within the game who are realising how catastrophic this has been. Players from the past are dying in the most horrible manner, and we need to do something.

For my generation of players, maybe there’s not much we can do about it. But we can certainly look after the players to come.

There shouldn’t be any reason for any hold-up in getting measures in place to protect them.

SPORTSMAIL’S CAMPAIGN TO BATTLE DEMENTIA AND OUR SUCCESSES

The DCMS backed several demands put to football’s governing bodies by Sportsmail in our seven-point charter last November:

1 – Increased funding from the FA and PFA for independent research into dementia and its links to football.

  • Achieved (FA put out a new call for more research this year) and backed by DCMS.

2 – The PFA to provide respite for families and carers of former professional footballers living with dementia.

  • Achieved (Sportsmail has spoken to families of former footballers who are now receiving help from the players’ union).

3 – The PFA to appoint a dedicated ‘dementia team’ and work with, promote and financially assist Alzheimer’s Society’s Sport United Against Dementia campaign and Dementia Connect support line.

  • Achieved (Dawn Astle and Rachel Walden agreed to work with the PFA on an initial six-month advisory basis).

4 – The PFA to help fund regular social events for people living with dementia and their carers.

  • Achieved (the PFA Charity has partnered with the Sporting Memories Foundation).

5 – Dementia to be formally recognised as an industrial disease.

  • Still campaigning, backed by DCMS.

6 – Football’s lawmakers, IFAB, to ratify temporary concussion replacements.

  • Still campaigning.

7 – Clubs to limit heading at all levels. Maximum of 20 headers per session in training. Minimum 48 hours between sessions.

  • Awaiting new rules for this season.




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