The FA became the first national association to successfully adopt the International Football Association Board (IFAB) trial to remove deliberate heading in grassroots football matches at U12 level and below.

After two seasons of the IFAB trial in English football, the FA will now introduce a new rule to phase out deliberate heading in matches in all affiliated grassroots youth football between U7-U11 level over the next three seasons.

Grahame Morris MP statement of the new rule to phase out heading:

“I welcome the FA’s decision to phase out heading in grassroots youth football. This initiative marks the very beginning of a crucial and long-overdue process to safeguard players and protect the future of the game. However, it’s important to recognise that the issue of heading extends beyond youth football to every level of the game.

Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has spoken candidly about the long-term effects that repeated heading can have on players. His concerns are so profound that he has advised his own son against heading the ball. This highlights the urgent need for comprehensive education on the dangers of heading, applicable to players of all levels and ages. The current cut-off at the U12 level is arbitrary and insufficient.

We need more players—past, present, and future—to share their experiences and concerns about heading. Despite overwhelming financial and commercial interests pushing back against reforms, parents and players need to assert that enough is enough. The brain health of players should not be compromised and gambled with under any circumstances.

While elite players at the highest levels of the game have the financial resources to manage health and care costs in retirement, they represent just the tip of a vast football pyramid. It is the responsibility of those who govern the game to ensure that all players living with brain disease receive proper support. Additionally, the government must recognise neurogenerative brain disease as an industrial injury. The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council must expedite this recognition and fulfil its duty without delay.

Today’s announcement by the FA is a very small step in a much larger process toward creating a headsafe game for all players. We must continue to push forward with these essential reforms to ensure the long-term health and safety of everyone involved in football.”

Grahame Morris MP led a cross-party debate in the House of Commons alongside former SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber and Conservative Douglas Ross MP for Moray:

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