What Do You Do When The System Fails A Player?

Since the news came out, I’ve thought of little else this week than Loris Karius’ concussion.
Jordan Keeble  |  7th June 2018

I have so many questions, and they each make me angrier than the last. Mostly it comes back to: how was this allowed to happen?

I know the easy answer and that’s no one noticed until it was too late.

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I know that’s easy to do, and to say, because a lot of times the symptoms of a concussion aren’t noticeable immediately. The referee clearly didn’t notice the initial collision, and waved it off when Karius brought it up immediately after. No one else close enough to the ‘keeper noticed any difference in his actions.

The thing is, that this wasn’t just a mistake. Concussions are serious, sometimes career ending injuries. Not only that, multiple studies have shown that there are even long term effects from a concussion, if not treated properly. Documentaries made about the dangers of ignoring them. Hell, even Will Smith made a movie about the doctor who discovered the effects of repeated concussions on NFL players. Players whose heads are protected by helmets. This is not new or recently discovered information. It’s been out there, long enough for UEFA to even change their concussion protocols during a match.

I also understand the weight that was on Karius in that moment. This was the biggest match of his life so far. To admit something wasn’t right, after watching Mohamed Salah come off injured, tears on his face, was probably gnawing at his insides. He wanted to play, he wanted to help his team succeed. It was already in the second half that the collision with head and elbow happened, so no halftime break to assess the damage, either.

This wasn’t just a mistake, it was an institutional failure. From the referee on the pitch, to the highest board at UEFA, who decided the collision didn’t warrant any disciplinary action.

It’s not even a question anymore of what happened, or if Ramos did anything wrong. There’s different video clips online, and Massachusetts General Hospital – a leading department for brain injuries – released a statement saying yes, Karius did suffer a concussion and the effects of which affected his performance. Considering Karim Benzema’s goal came a minute and some change after that fateful collision, I’d say it’s pretty damn clear exactly what happened.

How can we not be angry about this? How can we just let this go? It’s not about calling for a rematch – we’re not that petty as supporters. It’s about protecting our players, and honestly the integrity of the game. If players like Ramos, who have built their careers on the little tricks and dark arts of the game, can continue to get away with it, what chance does a team like Liverpool stand without sinking to his level? Liverpool to win the Champions League next year is 21/2 with RedsBet.

At the very least, the referee who waved off Karius’ concern simply because he didn’t see the elbow to the head should be disciplined in some capacity. Ramos isn’t going to be punished and that’s an outrage in itself. UEFA made the argument that Virgil van Dijk was pushed in Ramos’ direction during replays, but Ramos falls in such an exaggerated way – with his arm already out to call over the referee – that it seems disingenuous at best.

At the most, this is just another example of why there needs to be a secondary review team watching from above. If millions of supporters all over the world can watch a replay literally seconds after the incident happens, if sports commentators can do the same thing, there is no excuse why those similar tools can’t be used for referees to make clearer decisions. Isn’t this what VAR is supposed to be? Is it going to take another concussion or even worse to fully implement this kind of technology?

Who knows.

That’s the most frustrating part, isn’t it.

That something like this has happened and will almost certainly happen again, because nothing is being done about it. UEFA clearly don’t care. Real Madrid certainly don’t care because Ramos is the freaking captain. Petitions are looked down on. Screaming about it is dismissed as whining. “It’s over, it happened, move on.”

It won’t be over until we take that trophy back from them next season. It won’t be over until Sergio Ramos is properly disciplined.

Until then I’ll just quietly seethe and continue to hate Madrid and La Liga. Maybe get back to meditating. Definitely speak to my therapist.

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