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Scottish FA could ban children from heading the ball due to dementia fears

Credit: PA

Children in Scotland could soon be banned from heading the ball in training due to fears over the links with dementia.

The Scottish FA wants to lead the way on the issue after a research found former players are more at risk of developing neurological disorders.

The United States have put a similar ban in place since 2015 but the SFA would become the first European country to impose such a restriction.

The decision follows the release of a report by the University of Glasgow last October, which discovered former professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of a degenerative brain disease.

The report revealed the "risk ranged from a five-fold increase in Alzheimer's disease, through an approximately four-fold increase in motor neurone disease, to a two-fold Parkinson's disease in former professional footballers compared to population controls."

The study - Football's Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk - was led by consultant neuropathologist Dr Willie Stewart and commissioned by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers' Association.

Credit: PA

A spokesperson for the Scottish FA said: "The Scottish FA has worked closely with the authors of the research - which includes the men's national team doctor and medical advisor, Dr John MacLean - and wider football stakeholders to look at practical steps the national sport in this country can take to minimise risk in the area of head trauma.

"Given the study was undertaken using medical records from Scottish footballers, there is an additional onus on the national governing body in this country to take a responsible yet proportionate approach to the findings.

"The presidential team of Rod Petrie and Mike Mulraney, along with chief executive Ian Maxwell, were keen that all possible options were open to discussion but that any final recommendations would be taken with the guidance of the medical experts."

"To that end, productive discussions have taken place within the auspices of the Scottish FA's Professional and Non-Professional Game Boards, as well as main board, on proactive, preventative measures with particular focus on younger age groups.

"It is our intention to finalise those proposals with the relevant stakeholders in early course and further details will be announced thereafter."

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Brain injury association Headway has called for further research to be undertaken.

A ban on under-12s heading the ball in training is expected to be announced at the end of this month by the Scottish FA.