What FIFA 2022 in Qatar Will Highlight About Soccer Protective Gear
Dec 21, 2022
With FIFA 2022 around the corner, soccer fans are getting ready to see what will be another unforgettable tournament on the game's grandest stage. But we’re also going to see a case study on how soccer players are or should be treated regarding injury risk and prevention.
That pertains to the fact that this year’s World Cup will have concussion spotters. There’s also been great concern over how players will withstand the blistering heat in Qatar. This post will discuss these safety issues, our predictions of how safety will be treated after the games, and why it’s time to prioritize it.
Concussion safety protocol
This edition of the FIFA World Cup will see teams introduce a new position on their roster—concussion spotters. Essentially, their job is to sit on the sidelines and identify warning signs that a player may have had a concussion if they fall after a blow to the head. They’ll work with team doctors to determine whether a player can return to play or needs medical attention and rest.
Video replay technology will also be available for doctors to review and study to help doctors make concussion diagnoses or rule them out. That makes us excited for various reasons, but there are a couple, in particular, we want to highlight.
Awareness of soccer concussions will go global
Until now, soccer concussions have been dealt with in an isolated way. Researchers conduct research here and there, and some parents and players speak out to warn others about how concussions change their lives and so forth.
But now, with concussion spotters on the sidelines, an audience of billions will see how vital brain injury awareness and prevention are. And if players get hit and carried off for assessment and treatment, it will serve as an example for millions of players and coaches.
Awareness will hopefully translate into better soccer concussion prevention measures
We sincerely hope every player in this World Cup stays healthy and injury-free, especially free of head injuries! However, if it happens, the responses from concussion spotters and team doctors will hopefully have a ripple effect on how the world views head injuries in soccer.
Players, parents, and coaches need to take concussion prevention more seriously. We’ve written many posts about concussion-risk reduction over the years; we hope more professional and amateur leagues will echo our advice.
That includes the likes of:
- Wearing soccer headgear, such as our ExoShield headguard, which can significantly reduce the shock of impact trauma and g-forces that lead to concussions
- Strengthening the neck muscles to absorb more force, and training the eyes to spot oncoming opponents better
- Practicing proper header technique to help minimize the impact force of the ball transferred to the neck and head
Our aim is to have these tips be standard procedure in due time (ideally, sooner than later).
Heat protection and acclimatization
Here’s a controversy that’s been kicked around since Qatar was announced as the host for the 2022 games—the hot climate. At first, the tournament was slated for its typical June/July schedule, but in Qatar, temperatures regularly soar to an average of 42℃. They can even reach a sweltering 50℃.
Naturally, fans, officials and team members reacted in an uproar, many of whom feared a wave of heat-related injuries that would affect players from cooler climates. At least some of those fears came to rest in August 2022, when FIFA confirmed the games would happen in November.
The change is welcome since temperatures in November and December drop to a more manageable average of 25℃ (despite high humidity). That brings the importance of heat injury prevention into focus; another issue often overlooked in soccer.
The importance of climate control (where possible)
All eight stadiums where the games will take place have climate-control features. These features take the form of grills and nozzles that provide cool air for both players and spectators. That should offset some residual humidity that still lingers in Qatar’s “winter” air.
The takeaway for soccer leagues of all levels worldwide is that coaches and organizers need to vouch for their squads to play in venues that offer hospitable climates. If these facilities are out of reach, the leagues must provide other accommodations, such as tents and cooling stations. They also need to ensure players get adequate rest.
We’ve seen how a lack of these efforts has resulted in tragic yet preventable deaths of youth players. Hopefully, this World Cup will set a precedent for how soccer teams must protect players from heat-related illness.
Soccer injuries caused by heat will hopefully raise awareness about player protection
Aside from playing in suitable venues, soccer injuries caused by heat often come down to how we prepare our players. Too often, we simply don’t do enough to prepare them against the effects of heat. That’s unfortunate because cutting the risk of heat-related injuries is pretty straightforward.
But our hope is that after the World Cup, there will be a renewed focus on heat-injury prevention, a topic we’ve covered in the past as well. That would mean amateur and semi-professional leagues, especially, will emphasize certain habits when hot weather is a problem.
That includes the likes of:
- Wearing soccer gear that offers UV protection and temperature-regulating ability
- Hydrating sufficiently before, during, and after a game or practice
- Resting adequately and making substitutions to avoid overexertion
- Canceling games or practices on sweltering days (especially when a climate-controlled facility is unavailable)
Like our recommendations on concussion prevention mentioned above, we want more teams to prioritize these heat-related safety measures.
Will the FIFA 2022 World Cup elevate soccer injury prevention?
We sure hope so. The protocols to reduce the risk of soccer concussions, soccer injuries caused by heat, and many others already exist, but they often get overlooked. With the inclusion of concussion spotters and climate-controlled venues, we hope spectators and players worldwide take note of these efforts to keep players safe. It’s possible that FIFA’s leading by example can positively impact soccer at large.
Here at Storelli, we dish out a mix of knowledge and gear designed to keep soccer players healthy and safe on the pitch. It’s been our credo since the day we opened shop. We believe no player can be their best if they’re not prioritizing their safety. To maximize your potential in soccer, you have to minimize the risks that may come with it.Looking for more tips on safety and performance in soccer? Check out our blog for more insights.