The new guidance will be given to clubs in the Premier League, Football League, Women’s Super League, and all grassroots football, as well as all aspects of the England set-up.
England’s governing Football Association, Premier League, English Football League, Professional Footballers Association, and League Managers Association have all consented to the change.
Professional teams will be asked to limit high-force headers to 10 each training week after a long pass of more than 35 meters or from crosses, corners, and free-kicks, as well as construct individual player profiles to help adapt their training needs.
Amateur clubs are advised to limit heading practice to one session per week and no more than 10 headers per session.
However, none of the new recommendations apply on match days.
Concerns have also been raised that the guidance makes no distinction between men and women, despite mounting evidence that women are more vulnerable to brain injury.
The newest guidance does not place any additional restrictions on heading in young football, as guidelines for the junior game were released in February 2020.
Anecdotal evidence has suggested a link between the repetitive heading of a football and brain injury for decades, and a 2002 inquest into the death of former England striker Jeff Astle gave legal weight to this theory.
Prior to his death, it was discovered that heading leather footballs related to brain injuries.
“Our heading guidance now goes across all players, at all levels of the game,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, adding that the organization was committed to future medical research.
Dawn Astle, a co-founder of the Jeff Astle Foundation, which was established in her father’s memory, expressed her delight at the news.
“Most significantly, it begins to safeguard today’s footballers and their brains,” she told talkSPORT radio. “It will protect youngsters playing on Saturday and Sunday, it will protect our female footballers and footballers across the Football League.”
“Football needs to set up a trust fund or a pot of money to care for players who are suffering from dementia or neurological illnesses now.”
Our footballers have a five-fold increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, a four-fold increased risk of motor neuron disease, and a two-fold increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Grey of the University of East Anglia, a dementia expert, questioned how the guidelines would be implemented.
He was especially concerned about the continued lack of heading limitations in England’s youth football matches.
Grey claimed that a child’s brain is “much more vulnerable” than an adult’s and that it’s “time to explore an outright ban on heading the ball for younger children — both in practice and match play.”
Since the National Football League agreed to a US$1 billion settlement in 2015 to address thousands of lawsuits by former players suffering from neurological issues, there has been a greater awareness of concussions in sports.
As a result, a number of sports, including rugby union, rugby league, and cricket, have strengthened their concussion protocols around the world.