Enough is enough: Sportsmail launches campaign to tackle dementia


Sportsmail launches a campaign for football to finally tackle its dementia scandal.

In conjunction with Alzheimer’s Society’s Sport United Against Dementia, we are calling for meaningful action to battle the disease.

Sportsmail are announcing a seven-point charter for the Football Association, Professional Footballers’ Association and the game’s governing bodies to address immediately. 

Sportsmail launches a campaign for football to finally tackle its dementia scandal

The campaign comes after the diagnoses of ex-footballers such as Sir Bobby Charlton (above)

The campaign comes after the diagnoses of ex-footballers such as Sir Bobby Charlton (above)

Our wide-ranging campaign asks for further funding into crucial research around football’s link to the disease and for lawmakers to ratify temporary concussion replacements.

The 28 players you see above are just some of the footballers who have died or been diagnosed with dementia. 

Studies have found that those who played the game professionally are 3.5 times more likely to die from neurodegenerative disease than the general population. It is a shocking statistic that needs to be addressed urgently.

Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton is at the forefront of our campaign, having courageously spoken about how his father Mike, also a former footballer, is dying of dementia.

Chris Sutton (left) is leading the campaign and has spoken about his father Mike's struggles

Chris Sutton (left) is leading the campaign and has spoken about his father Mike’s struggles

‘It wipes you out as a person and leaves a blank page,’ Sutton says. ‘I visit him and he doesn’t know who I am. He can’t talk or feed himself. My dad and countless others have been let down.’

Our plan has been developed with the assistance of Sutton and leading neuropathologist Dr Willie Stewart. Dr Stewart’s FIELD study identified the increased risk of footballers suffering brain disease and his research is ongoing.

There were concerns that the PFA and FA were to stop funding the project in March of next year. 

But in a victory for Sportsmail’s campaign on Monday night, just hours after being contacted for comment the PFA announced they would continue to meet Stewart’s costs.

The campaign asks for more research into the link between football's link to dementia

The campaign asks for more research into the link between football’s link to dementia 

Sutton has teamed up with leading neuropathologist Dr Willie Stewart (above) in the campaign

Sutton has teamed up with leading neuropathologist Dr Willie Stewart (above) in the campaign

This news took Stewart by surprise as he had received no correspondence from the PFA. 

Also among our demands is a call on the PFA to appoint a dedicated ‘dementia team’ to deal with concerns of those connected to the game and to help fund Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line. 

We ask the PFA to start providing respite for families and carers of former footballers and explore funding regular social events for those living with dementia and their carers.

We are also calling on clubs to limit heading at all levels, including professional. After speaking to Dr Stewart, Sportsmail recommends a maximum of 20 headers per session in training and a minimum of 48 hours between sessions. 

Dawn Astle, the daughter of Jeff, whose death in 2002 was ruled by a coroner to have been as a result of heading footballs, joins us in calling for dementia to be ruled as an industrial disease.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: SPORTSMAIL’S CAMPAIGN TO TACKLE DEMENTIA 

Dawn Astle (above) joins Sportsmail in calling for dementia to be ruled as an industrial disease

Dawn Astle (above) joins Sportsmail in calling for dementia to be ruled as an industrial disease

MPs joined in last night by warning football’s governing bodies that they face legislation forcing the sport to tackle the risk of brain injury among players, having been ‘knowingly negligent’ for years.

Kate Lee, chief executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see the Daily Mail launching such an important campaign to help get answers where dementia is concerned. 

‘We want to see much more research into the links between dementia and football. Until then, we have set up Sport United Against Dementia to spearhead change by making sure that the very best support is available to all sportspeople.

‘We are calling for clubs and bodies like the PFA and FA to work with us to ensure that past and present players, families and also fans affected by dementia get the help they need, through our Dementia Advisers and Dementia Connect support line.’ The support line number is 0333 150 3456.

Kate Lee, Alzheimer’s Society CEO, wants to see more research into the links between dementia and football

Kate Lee, Alzheimer’s Society CEO, wants to see more research into the links between dementia and football

The FA said in a statement: ‘The FA has helped to lead the way in ground-breaking research into the links between football and dementia. 

‘We have made changes to the way the game is played in England, including updated guidance on heading for all age groups between Under 6 and Under 18.’

The PFA said they supported the request that neurodegenerative diseases be prescribed as an industrial disease in ex-professional footballers and said they were part of a taskforce ‘to ensure a co-ordinated approach to research’.

The PFA also said they supported and had lobbied for the introduction of concussion substitutes and were an active member of an FA working party looking into guidance on heading.

With regards to care, the PFA claimed respite care for carers, financial assistance towards provisions such as home improvements, independent benefits advice, counselling provisions for family members and help with care costs were all available, but added that details of such assistance provided were confidential. They added that they were funding a number of research projects.

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