Compared to the head-smashing hits of American football or the bone-crushing scrums of rugby, soccer has traditionally been perceived as a relatively safe sport, immune to catastrophic injuries and major health risks. Every two years, the worldwide notoriety of the Euro and World Cup reopens the floodgates for soccer critics to take their jabs at the unpopular tactic of ‘flopping’ or ‘diving’ (acting as if a foul occurred despite no significant contact), portraying soccer as ‘soft’ and a far cry from the dangerous nature of football, rugby, hockey and other more physical sports.
But 2017 marked a seismic shift in the world’s perception of safety in soccer. Alarming research illuminated the frequency and seriousness of concussion risks stemming from one of the game’s most common plays – head balls.
The adverse PR didn’t stop there. A new health scare began to gain traction, and this time the root cause was an unsuspecting culprit – the artificial turf playing field.