Football: is it time to stop headers?


Following this year’s FIFA World Cup, we’re taking a closer look at one of the common practices of players: headers.

We’re all very impressed whenever a footballer heads a ball kicked from dozens of meters away, and we’ve all let out the involuntary "outch".

And indeed we should, as recent scientific studies suggest that heading is not without its risks. Receiving the ball on the head can cause temporary brain abnormalities, as well as memory and concentration problems.

To be clear, you need to pass a certain number of headers in football before any brain abnormalities show up on MRI. Yet while the negative effects of headers are temporary, a study recently published in Frontiers in Neurology suggests that they nevertheless appear quite suddenly. So for all you footballers out there – give your head a break!