Dutch football association questions U.S. Soccer youth ban on headers

Football Header (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/AMISOM). (Football Header (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/AMISOM))

Dutch football association KNVB sees no reason to implement a ban on headers for young players, as the American football association U.S. Soccer did earlier this week.

Earlier this week U.S. soccer recommended to American youth soccer programs that heading be banned in football games with players under the age of 10 and in practice for players up to the age of 13, Yahoo reported. The American association hopes that this measure will lead to a safer environment and fewer injuries for young players.

But according to KNVB doctor Edwin Goedhart, there is no scientific evidence that headers cause injuries. "Most head injuries are not caused by headers, but by duels, collisions and falls. Or by getting hit with the ball. This measure cannot prevent that", he said on the KNVB website. Goedhart also pointed out that being taught how to head a ball properly is an important aspect of football training, and learning that at a young age can reduce the risk of problems later in life. "In America, much more than in the Netherlands, there exists a claim culture. The fear of future claims may have played a role in this decision."

According to the KNVB, the size and weight of football balls have already been adjusted for each age group to reduce the impact of headers and to avoid injuries.

A study by Purdue University found that heading goal kicks and hard shots can be as damaging as punches by boxers or helmet-to-helmet impact in American football, English newspaper The Guardian recently reported. "The percentages of 100g hits was effectively the same between women's college soccer and American Football, which really surprised us", the newspaper quoted Eric Nauman, director of Human Injury Research at Purdue.