Thursday, September 11, 2014

FIFA's Headache: Parents & Players File Lawsuit Seeking Rule Changes

This summer, the entire globe enjoyed one of the most popular and cherished events across national borders: FIFA’s World Cup Championship, held this year in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. With Germany taking home the big trophy, soccer fans and players in the U.S. looked towards early Fall for their fix as the local season was set to start again.

Since then, there has been a great deal of discussion surrounding the safety of the sports as the rules stand and whether any changes could be made to protect the players. With the groundbreaking settlement last year involving more than 200 former NFL players, parents, athletes and advocates within other sports are now exploring the possibility of seeking compensation for permanent brain damage caused by sports injuries.

Specifically, a coalition made up of parents and players has filed a class-action lawsuit against futbol international governing body FIFA. The lawsuit concerns the tactics used by FIFA when handling the subject of player concussions and names several American soccer organizations including United States Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization. The class-action was filed on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 with the United States District Court in California.

Unlike similar lawsuits against the NFL, NHL and NCAA over concussions, the plaintiffs in the soccer lawsuit are not seeking financial compensation for damages. Rather, they are seeking non-monetary compensation in the form of rule changes on the part of FIFA and the other governing organizations. Their demands include reforms such as:

  • Limits on headers for minor players under the age of 17
  • Allowing temporary substitutions while a player is being checked for head injury
  • Provision of medical testing, retroactive to players injured as long ago as 2002
The league is no stranger to disputes over concussions in the sport. In 2006 it introduced the red card for an elbow to the head among other changes made throughout its history to regulate player behavior more heavily. A spokesman for the organization had no statement to make that Wednesday, as the organization claimed it was still unaware of the suit. Legal experts in the field foresee the primary issue of jurisdiction being the deciding factor in the lawsuit, as FIFA is based in Zurich, Switzerland. The plaintiffs’ counsels are confident, however, that they can show that the organization is still vulnerable to liability because of the association with many American organizations.

NY Times reports the full story here.

Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. is an Orange County based personal injury law firm that helped injured victims of negligence and wrongdoing seek damages for their injuries and other losses. Learn more about the firm by visiting our website today.