The United States Soccer Federation and the US Youth Soccer Association are in the crosshairs of a proposed class action lawsuit that seeks to represent current and former female youth soccer players who the case says face an increased risk of concussive injuries stemming from the governing bodies’ failure to “mandate necessary and proper headgear as a compulsory item of players’ equipment.”
According to the 16-page lawsuit, the named plaintiffs have suffered concussions during play and, due to their young age, are at an increased risk of experiencing latent brain injuries from “repeated head impacts or the accumulation of sub-concussive hits.” The defendants, who oversee youth soccer events in Pennsylvania’s Western District, have done nothing to reduce the risk of preventable head injuries, the lawsuit alleges, including enforcing the use of headgear in youth girls’ soccer.
Particular emphasis is placed in the complaint on the possibility that signs of brain injuries in younger children can remain dormant until years after a seemingly benign injury has taken place:
“There is substantial evidence that young people may be more susceptible to damage resulting from repetitive concussive and sub-concussive brain trauma.
In younger children, the long-term effects of brain trauma can become apparent years after injury, as normal developmental milestones are disrupted.
Players who do not wear protective soccer headgear are 2.65 times more likely to suffer a concussion than those who do.”
The suit says that while protective headgear isallowedunder the “Laws of the Game,” the defendants have acted negligently by failing to require the equipment. Moreover, the plaintiffs allege the defendants have known of the existence of soccer-related traumatic brain injuries for years but have to date only “passively issued guidelines” on the concussion problem that understate the dangers of neurological injuries.