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by Staff reporter
21 September 2021
Dementia among footballers should be considered 'industrial disease'

Celtic legend Billy McNeill was diagnosed with Alzheimer's before his death in 2019

Dementia among footballers should be considered 'industrial disease'

Cases of dementia and brain injury among footballers must be considered an “industrial disease”, Scottish ministers have been told. 

Michael Marra, a Labour MSP, will use a member’s debate in Holyrood today to call for “real action” on the issue.

He said players had "unknowingly sacrificed their health for our entertainment".

Research at Glasgow University looked at 7,700 men who played professional football and found they were 3.5 times more likely to die from neuro-degenerative disease. There was also a fivefold increase in Alzheimer’s disease.

Marra said: “Every month we hear of more high-profile cases of former footballers being diagnosed. Behind those will be dozens more unreported, where families are struggling on, doing their best for their loved ones and our heroes. 

“The science is clear - these injuries are clearly a result of the time that these men spent playing the game we all love. 

“They have unknowingly sacrificed their health for our entertainment and its time that we supported them properly. 

“The Scottish Government must recognise that these injuries are a form of industrial disease and allow these players to access the support they need, and deserve.” 

The University of Glasgow study found the risks of dementia were related to playing position, with defenders having a five-fold risk, while goalkeepers had the same risk as non-players. 

The length of time playing was also crucial  - those who played for longer than 15 years were five times more likely to develop brain diseases including dementia.

Read the most recent article written by Staff reporter - Life Stories: Fiona Hyslop



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